Juvenile arthritis (JA) isn’t a specific disease, but an inflammatory and autoimmune condition in youngsters under age 16. JA affects approximately 300,000 children just in the U.S. and it’s classified within seven different types, depending upon a range of symptoms and co-conditions.
All forms of JA have pain, swelling and inflammation in common and include:.
- Juvenile scleroderma causes tightening and hardening of the skin
- Kawasaki disease is marked by inflammation of blood vessels
- Mixed connective tissue disease combines symptoms of other types
- Fibromyalgia is more common in girls and causes pain, stiffness, fatigue and sleep disruptions
Early diagnosis is critical to help children with juvenile arthritis. JA affects more than just joints and can actually represent a hazard to growing bones. Youngsters with JA are at risk of bone loss and weakened bones due to inflammation that make them more susceptible to fractures, including those of the spine. Physical therapists can help with:
Your physical therapist will provide therapies designed to relieve pain, enhance bone strength, maintain mobility and range of motion, and build endurance. A customized program of specialized exercises will be developed that will factor in the many facets of your child’s condition.
Multiple exercises are available that children can perform independently and manual manipulation is available if your child has difficulty moving on their own. Hydrotherapy is an excellent exercise therapy that alleviates the effects of gravity and weight on your youngster’s body, making movement easier and less painful.
Therapeutic massage helps relieve pain, inflammation and improves circulation. It’s also beneficial for relieving tension and stress that can cause a flare-up of symptoms.
Your child’s physical therapist may employ heat and cryotherapies for relief from pain and inflammation, along with dry needling, acupuncture, or electro-stimulation for older youngsters. Assistance is also available with crutches, canes, walkers and wheelchairs when applicable to help reduce the risk of falls and injuries and improve mobility
Nutritional counseling and supplement recommendations from your physical therapist ensure your child has the necessary resources for health. Specialized accommodations, ergonomic solutions and adaptive techniques help your child perform tasks easier, more comfortably, with less pain, and with less chance of injury. Being as self-sufficient as possible improves confidence and your child’s self-image.
Children with juvenile arthritis face multiple challenges and Healing Touch Physical Therapy can help manage every stage of the condition. The techniques and therapies will help your youngster stay active, manage pain and flare-ups, and improve quality of life.