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Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: Care Instructions


Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a disease that happens to children. It causes swollen and stiff joints. Experts think it happens when a child's natural defences (immune system) attack his or her joints.

Your child may have some pain and walk with a limp. And your child may develop eye problems.

Sometimes this disease is called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Your child can take pills or get a shot in a joint to reduce pain and swelling. Physiotherapy can help keep your child's joints flexible.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Help your child get the right mix of exercise and rest. Exercise helps keep joints strong and flexible. But your child may also need extra rest during the day.
  • See a physiotherapist. He or she can help your child move stiff joints. This is most important for younger children who can't do exercises on their own.
  • Encourage your child to do his or her usual activities as much as possible. Your child may be able to do low-impact sports. Good examples are swimming, biking, and rowing. These sports are good for the heart and lungs. And they build strength and keep joints flexible. They may also reduce pain and the need for medicine.
  • Give your child anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain and swelling, if your doctor recommends them. These include ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If your doctor prescribes medicine, have your child take it exactly as prescribed. Your child may get medicine to control the immune system. Or he or she may get medicine to reduce pain and swelling. Do not stop or change a medicine without talking to your doctor.
  • Try non-medicine ways to relieve pain. Examples include breathing and relaxation exercises. Using heat can help, too.
  • Make sure your child has regular eye exams.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new symptoms. These include eye pain, blurred vision, loss of vision, or red eyes.
  • Your child's joint pain or swelling seems worse.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child has more trouble walking than usual.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.