If your child with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) has been regularly seeing his physician for a dose of pain relief, consider complementing it with physical therapy. Medication may help reduce swelling
temporarily but a good
therapeutic exercise program may provide longer-lasting benefits by proactively
improving the affected joint itself.
Because of pain, it’s not unusual for children with JIA to be reluctant to engage in physical activities. But exercise is essential to JIA therapy and studies show there’s no harm in establishing an exercise routine. Most kids even report reduced discomfort and tension after performing
Increased activity participation is impeded, however, by the lack of clear guidelines as to what constitutes safe and unsafe movement. Physical therapists work by observing what a child does or want to do, determining constraints and creating an exercise plan to help him or her make up for those deficiencies.
Generally, these exercises are designed to enhance the joints’ range of motion by building muscle strength and endurance to support these weak joints. Through exercise, muscle bulk that was lost during inflammation may be regained, restoring muscle strength and function.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the tendons and ligaments holding the joints in place lose elasticity, resulting
to stiffness. By improving elasticity, pressure on the
swollen joint may be lessened. Your child with juvenile arthritis will be
trained to use resistance to build joint muscles and relieve them of pressure. The
physical therapist will determine the kind of flexibility and strengthening
exercises suitable for your child.