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How is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) treated?
Treatment goals for JIA are to reduce your child's joint pain and to prevent disability.
Most children with JIA need to take medicine to reduce inflammation, control pain, and to help prevent more damage to the joints. Physical therapy is also part of treatment.
Treatment depends on the type and severity of JIA. Your doctor will set up a treatment team. It may include a pediatrician, an ophthalmologist, a rheumatologist, and a physical and/or occupational therapist.
Surgery may be used in a very small number of children with JIA who have severe joint deformity, loss of movement, or pain.
Some children with JIA have no appetite, so malnutrition becomes a medical concern. If your child has little appetite for food, see a registered dietitian for help.
Medicine will likely be an important part of your child's treatment.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may be used to prevent the arthritis from getting worse and injuring bones and joints.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce inflammation and pain, especially before DMARDs can take effect.
A corticosteroid pill or a corticosteroid shot into a joint is sometimes used.
Combinations of medicines may also be used.
Physical therapy and home treatment
Treatment may include:
Physical therapy. Regular exercise and range-of-motion exercises will help maintain joint range and muscle strength. And it will prevent shortening of the muscle or other tissue (contractures).
Occupational therapy. An occupational therapist (OT) can help your child learn ways to do self-care activities, play, and take part in school without making symptoms worse. OT will also teach you and your child about using splints and casts.
Balancing rest and activity. Mix extra naps or quiet times with activity each day.
Assistive devices. These can help your child hold onto, open, close, move, or do things more easily. They include canes, braces, and devices to make getting around the house easier.
A pain management plan. This can help you and your child control pain caused by JIA. The plan may include heat, cold, or water therapy. Some people try complementary medicine, such as massage, guided imagery, and acupuncture.
You and your child will be able to use many of the above treatment options at home. Home treatment can also include healthy eating, dealing with stiffness, and using assistive devices.
Treatment depends on the type of JIA and how severe it is. Even when JIA is uncomplicated, an affected child may need years of medical treatment or checkups. To make sure that your child's care is right for the stage of disease, work closely with the medical team. Learn as much as you can about your child's disease and treatments. And stay on schedule with medicine and exercise.
Inflammatory eye disease may develop in children with JIA. This form of eye disease generally has no symptoms. It can lead to a permanent decrease in vision or blindness. So part of your child's treatment plan should be regular checkups with an ophthalmologist.
Open trials refer to studies currently recruiting participants or that may recruit participants in the near future. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but similar studies may open in the future.
Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.