How is Juvenile Arthritis Treated?
In order to get the best treatment, you’ll work with many kinds of doctors in addition to your pediatrician or pediatric rheumatologist. You might see an ophthalmologist, who’ll look after your eyes; a psychologist, to handle the emotional stress of having a chronic illness; a physical therapist to set up your exercise program; and many other specialists who can help in different ways.
Treatments for juvenile arthritis include exercise, medication and sometimes surgery.
Treating JA is an ongoing process. If you’re having trouble or feel like quitting your treatment, don’t keep it to yourself. Your doctors and your family can help. So can your friends. The Arthritis Foundation’s camps and conferences are a great place to meet other kids with JA so you can help each other when you need it.
You’ll be prescribed daily exercises designed to help you move more easily. Some help with specific activities, like walking, getting dressed or writing, and others keep joints flexible and muscles strong. If a joint hasn’t been working properly, these exercises can help you move normally again.
Recreational activities will also be part of your exercise plan. Swimming, walking and biking are great for kids with juvenile arthritis, since they don’t stress joints. While you have active inflammation in your joints, your doctor may want you to avoid some activities and sports, but once your arthritis is well controlled, you should be able to play most sports.
Medications can reduce inflammation and pain, making it easier for you to move around. You’ll probably take more than one to treat your arthritis. These medications could come in the form of pills, liquids, injections or infusions, which are given intravenously, or into a vein. Some kids like to give themselves their own injections, so they feel more in control.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are used to reduce pain, joint swelling and fevers. They come as pills and liquids.
- Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) can prevent long-term joint damage. They can also relieve pain and reduce inflammation. They come as pills, liquid and injections and can take a while to work.
- Corticosteroids are used to ease symptoms fast, like when you are having a flare or when you are waiting for your DMARDs to take full effect. They come as pills, liquid and injections.
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