Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis, is just as painful as it sounds, especially as it affects children as young as 3 years old. Many of the affected children will suffer from chronic, often excruciating, pain at an early age as well as undergo joint and hip replacement surgeries before they can even drive a car.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom although the affected children and their concerned parents may feel like it is more often than not. The medical condition can be managed well with a combination of medications (e.g., Celebrex), as well as alternative therapies like acupuncture, massage, and herbal remedies. The presence of a dedicated pain management team from the doctors to the caregivers, such as parents and siblings, is a must, too.
There are also lifestyle remedies that can help in reducing the intensity, frequency and duration of the pain flares in children affected by it. Here are three of them that parents can apply on their children to see whether these work or not for them.
Engage in Mild Exercise
Pool exercises including swimming in a heated pool are highly recommended for many reasons. The heated pool provides relief to aching joints while the near-weightless feeling takes pressure off the joints. The exercises also contribute to stronger muscles and legs, a must after a hip replacement surgery.
But being in a pool isn’t the only mild exercise your child can engage in. You can also recommend yoga with its basic poses.
Get as Much Sleep as Possible
You should ensure that your child gets as much as 8 hours of sleep every night, even with a full academic and social schedule. When a child with JRA is tired, his joints become more sore than usual so every movement becomes torture – and the vicious cycle can affect everybody’s mood, too.
Your child will benefit from wearing loose cotton pajamas without snaps, zippers and buttons that can affect already sore joints. You should also check that his bed has soft linens and pillows in different shapes for his knees, hips, and neck. You may even encourage him to drink warm chamomile tea or valerian root to help him go to sleep faster.
Heat Things Up
Hot compresses can go a long way toward easing the pain in sore joints. You can buy electric heating pads with Velcro straps that can be placed around the legs or waist (i.e., underneath clothes) so the heating sensations can be enjoyed even in school or the mall.
Of course, regular doctor consultations are a must because medications and therapies can be changed depending on the progress your child is making. You may also consider making your child’s life as normal as possible so that he doesn’t focus too much on his health issues.