Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis: Coping strategies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Most kids just want to fit in with their peers. But dealing with a chronic disease such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can make that difficult. Family members can play critical roles in helping a child cope with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. As a parent, you may want to try the following:

  • Treat your child, as much as possible, like other children in your family.
  • Allow your child to express anger about having juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Explain that the disease isn't caused by anything he or she did.
  • Discuss your child's condition and the issues surrounding it with teachers and administrators at his or her school.

Caregivers also can help children learn self-care techniques that help limit the effects of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Techniques include:

  • Getting regular exercise. Exercise is important because it promotes both muscle strength and joint flexibility. Swimming is an excellent choice because it places minimal stress on joints.
  • Applying cold or heat. Stiffness affects many children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, particularly in the morning. Although some children respond well to cold packs, most children prefer a hot pack or a hot bath or shower.
  • Eating well. Some children with arthritis have poor appetites. Others may gain excess weight due to medications or physical inactivity. A healthy diet can help maintain an appropriate body weight. Adequate calcium in the diet is important because children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are at risk of developing weak bones (osteoporosis) due to the disease, the use of corticosteroids, and decreased physical activity and weight bearing.
Feb. 21, 2014 See more In-depth

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