Rheumatoid Arthritis Zones
Rheumatoid arthritis often affects small and large joints on both sides of the body (symmetry), such as both hands, both wrists or elbows, or the balls of both feet.
Caring for your child with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
You can do a lot at home to help your child relieve his or her symptoms and prevent JIA from causing problems.
Do range-of-motion exercises.
These help maintain your child's joint range and muscle strength. They also prevent contractures. You may need to help an infant or younger child do the exercises.
Find a balance between rest and activity.
Your child may need extra naps or quiet time to rest the joints and regain strength. But too much rest may lead to weakness in unused muscles.
Follow a medicine schedule.
- An older child may find it easier to remember to take medicine by using a pillbox or chart for a day's or week's worth of medicine.
- Ask your doctor if the dose can be adjusted so your child can take it at times that are most convenient and won't make him or her feel "different" from others.
- To avoid stomach upset, you can also give nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with meals or a small snack.
Use assistive devices.
These can help your child hold on to, open, close, move, or do things more easily. Devices include Velcro fasteners and enlarged handles. Getting your child lightweight clothing and toys will also help.
Make sure that your child sees the doctor regularly.
Your child should also have eye exams with an ophthalmologist. Inflammatory eye disease can develop as a complication in children with JIA.
Help manage your child's stiffness.
- Apply heat to stiff and painful joints for 20 minutes, and repeat as needed. You can use hot water bottles. Or make hot packs from towels dipped in warm water or wet towels microwaved for 15 to 30 seconds. Always make sure that hot water bottles and hot packs aren't too hot for your child's skin. Keep a cloth between the hot water bottle and your child's skin. Don't use heat if your child's joints are red and warm.
- Many children who have JIA have less stiffness in the morning if their joints are kept warm during the night. To help keep joints warm, try footed pajamas, thermal underwear, a sleeping bag, a heated water bed, or an electric blanket.
- Encourage your child to take a warm bath or shower first thing in the morning. It can help ease stiffness. Have your child stretch gently afterward.
- Give morning medicines as early as you can, with a snack or breakfast, to prevent upsetting an empty stomach.
Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.