22 Aug Relieve Pain of Juvenile Arthritis with Exercise and Physical Therapy
Juvenile arthritis, an autoimmune and inflammatory condition that develops in children under the age of 16, affects over 300,000 children in the United States. From joint stiffness and pain to limited range of motion, JA affects many aspects of the child’s life and requires education and aggressive action to reduce pain and prevent progression.
Although many children benefit from medications, exercise and physical therapy may also help facilitate fitness goals and improve the child’s quality of life.
Treating with alternating heat and cold may relieve some JA pain. Heat treatment decreases the rigidity of joints and increases flexibility of the fibrous tissue in the joint capsules and tendons. Children with JA often suffer from stiffness, and heat treatments can often prevent or even control this pain. Hot showers in the morning and soothing baths at night can control and relieve stiffness and pain.
Cold treatments provide analgesic and vasoconstriction in inflamed joints. Since JA affects children at a young age, cold treatments, like ice packs, are harder to use because the child will become uncomfortable more quickly. Most cold treatments are applied for 20 minutes.
Massage may also help relieve pain and reduce anxiety in children with JA. Short massages given each night by a family member have been shown to reduce stress and joint pain and stiffness in children.
Children with JA also benefit from strengthening their muscles and implementing low impact exercises into their daily lives. Aquatic exercises like swimming are great because they reduce the impact on the joints while strengthening the muscles. Children can also try yoga or other stretch related exercises.
If your child is suffering from JA or if you have questions, contact a physical therapist or physician to formulate the best treatment plan for him or her.