Family Resources to Support Kids with Juvenile Arthritis
Children who are diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis are not alone. Nearly 300,000 kids are diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis (JA). That’s 1 in 250 kids. Juvenile Arthritis, also known as Pediatric Rheumatic Disease, is a term used that describes several autoimmune and inflammatory conditions or pediatric rheumatic diseases that affect children (under the age of 16).
In this post, we’ll look at:
- types of Juvenile Arthritis,
- symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis, and
- support resources for families of kids with Juvenile Arthritis
TYPES OF JUVENILE ARTHRITIS
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA): Considered the most common form of arthritis, JIA includes six subtypes: oligoarthritis, polyarthritis, systemic, enthesitis-related, juvenile psoriatic arthritis or undifferentiated.
- Juvenile dermatomyositis: An inflammatory disease, juvenile dermatomyositis causes muscle weakness and a skin rash on the eyelids and knuckles.
- Juvenile lupus: Lupus is an autoimmune disease. The most common form is systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE. Lupus can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood and other areas of the body.
- Juvenile scleroderma: Scleroderma, which literally means “hard skin,” describes a group of conditions that causes the skin to tighten and harden.
- Kawasaki disease: This disease causes blood-vessel inflammation that can lead to heart complications.
- Mixed connective tissue disease: This disease may include features of arthritis, lupus dermatomyositis and scleroderma, and is associated with very high levels of a particular antinuclear antibody called anti-RNP.
- Fibromyalgia: This chronic pain syndrome is an arthritis-related condition, which can cause stiffness and aching, along with fatigue, disrupted sleep and other symptoms. More common in girls, fibromyalgia is seldom diagnosed before puberty.
*Source: Arthritis Foundation
SYMPTOMS OF JUVENILE ARTHRITIS
There are many early signs that your child’s doctor may look for when diagnosing Juvenile Arthritis. Early signs and symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis may include:
- Persistent joint swelling
- Consistent complaints of joint pain
- Joint pain primarily in hands, wrists, and knees
- Appearance of skin rashes
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Development of a limp
- Loss of motor skill function
- Eye dryness
- Eye inflammation
*Source: Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network
Juvenile Arthritis and Exercise:
Kids with Juvenile Arthritis can and should exercise. Maintaining a regular exercise program helps keep muscles strong and healthy to support and protect joints, as well as maintain range of motion and a healthy weight. A 2007 Canadian study published in Arthritis Care & Research found aerobic exercise helped children with arthritis.
Children with Juvenile Arthritis may have less muscle strength and muscle endurance. They may also experience decreased aerobic capacity and anaerobic capacity. Studies have shown that these conditions can be improved with exercise training and that aerobic and anaerobic capacity can be boosted, and resistance training can increase muscle strength and endurance. Participating in regular exercise and activity helps strengthen muscles and improves joint range. During exercise, the body also produces endorphins, which can help to reduce pain, and joint stiffness.
Types of Exercise:
- Range of motion
Physical Activity Tips for Kids with Juvenile Arthritis:
- A child with JA may tire faster than a child not affected by JA. Be aware of the child’s level of comfort and allow activity breaks if needed.
- Check in with the child before, during, and after an activity to see what’s going well and if they would like any additional support.
- When starting a new exercise program, always be sure to speak to your child’s doctor or health care team to find the right level of activity for your child’s specific needs, and if necessary, obtain written consent.
Looking for a fun Summer activity to keep kids active? Check out our post 10 Fun Outdoor Activities for Children Who Need Different Accommodations.
Resources for Families of Kids with Juvenile Arthritis:
- Arthritis Foundation (Kids Get Arthritis, Too)
- Arthritis Foundation
- Cure Arthritis (JA)
- About Kids Health
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network
- Creaky Joints’ Parent Guide
Get connected to a community of support. The UpBeat, Powered by CoachArt is a new podcast and website dedicated to the emotional and social wellbeing of families impacted by childhood chronic illness.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR FAMILIES IMPACTED BY CHILDHOOD CHRONIC ILLNESS
CoachArt’s mission is to create a transformative arts and athletics community for families impacted by childhood chronic illness.
Children living with chronic illness may feel isolated because of their condition. Frequent hospital visits and deficient immune systems often cause them to miss time in school and recreational activities. Families, overwhelmed by the cost and demands of ongoing medical care, often lack the resources to seek out or afford extracurricular activities. Healthy siblings are affected too when family resources are focused on a chronically ill child. CoachArt supports these families by offering free recreational lessons that bring a sense of normalcy back into their lives.
CoachArt is a nonprofit organization that offers free art and athletic lessons to chronically ill children and their siblings between the ages of 5-18 in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and San Diego. If your child has been diagnosed with a chronic condition, we invite you to fill out a student eligibility form or get in touch to learn if CoachArt is right for your child.
Ways to Help
Do you have an artistic or athletic skill you would like to share with a child impacted by chronic illness? Become a CoachArt Volunteer.