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Juvenile Arthritis Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy

Juvenile Arthritis, also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis, is the most common form of arthritis in children.

It typically starts before the child or patient is 16 years old, and idiopathic refers to no exact/defined cause, arthritis means inflammation of the joint synovium.

It is an autoimmune disorder.

Signs and Symptoms

Initially, the patients often demonstrate lethargy, decreased physical exertion and activity, as well as poor appetite.

In some cases, the children will present with limping, becoming ill, having feverish or flu-like symptoms that are persistent.

The main feature is the persistent swelling of the affected joints which are commonly the knee, wrist, ankles and small joints of the hands and feet.

Other joints with swelling that are harder to detect are swelling in the joints of the

  • shoulder
  • hip
  • jaw and
  • spine

Children often has

  • pain
  • waking up with generalized body stiffness and aching joints

In some cases, the eye can develop inflammation, growth impaired or retarded, and loss of mobility and function of joints that are affected.

Causes of Juvenile Arthritis

Actual causes are not defined and still uncertain, though it has been classified as autoimmune in nature.

Some scientists believe that it is environmental causes, some believe its genetics but there is no actual cause yet.

Most of the time, it is more common in Caucasians and young girls.

physiotherapy and occupational therapy

The treatment of a child with juvenile arthritis is best managed by a team of experienced healthcare professionals, including pediatric rheumatologists, nurse specialists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

Of course, in the wider circle of health and community, school, parents, and community involvement such as teachers, nurses, dentists, orthopedic surgeons, general practitioners and career advisors too have their roles to play.

The major focus of treatment is to increase the child's activity levels (social, physical) to normal levels through

  • physiotherapy
  • pain management and
  • social assistance and support from family, friends and the community

Occupational therapy and physiotherapy is crucial to increase their mobility, function, ability through recommendation of best suitable exercises, use of equipment, fabrication of splints or use of ambulatory devices. In severe cases, the child may require orthopedic surgery to remove scar tissue and increase joint function.

DIY home remedies includes

  • involving the child in regular exercise programs such as swimming;
  • use cold packs to manage and decrease inflammation
  • using electric hotpacks to increase joint and muscle mobility.

Occupational therapy is **VERY** important to help the child with juvenile arthritis to participate, play, and grow as much as possible in their daily activities and roles to increase psyhological and physical independence.

The main idea is to maximize quality of life and minimize disruption to the child and family's quality of life.

Areas to which the occupational therapist will involve is the areas of self care (dressing, toileting, brushing teeth, showering, eating) where they will help them to use compensatory approaches or equipment to help; leisure by encompassing play into activities and exercises alongside with their friends and the physiotherapists.

Whenever necessary, they will fabricate splints and custom made braces to help correct body position and function and alignment. The OT can also help a child to improve social relationships by teaching them how to communicate and interact with their classmates and friends through group play, modelling, role playing and group work. OTs teach them to see what activities they are good at, and which ones will be difficult.

Appropriate and regular physiotherapy programs does and will help to

Physiotherapy Treatments For Joint Pain

Our medical partners will often prescribe surgical intervention and analgesics to relieve the pain, on top of medication/tests to clear off problems such as infections etc.

Our physiotherapy and hand therapy roles support the medical professionals, and treatments are often started with

  • thermal therapy to decrease inflammation
  • ultrasound to accelerate healing
  • followed by manual therapy to loosen joints and exercise therapy to increase blood flow and healing, allow tendons and muscles to glide to prevent adhesions, and improve mobility and strength.

Our physio clinics can help to tailor an exercise program to suit your need, taking into consideration your current fitness and strength level, and gradually building up your strength, stamina, stability for a better and healthier quality of life.

If you had recently undergone surgery for a joint replacement, or you are about to go to undergo the surgery soon, we can help you with post-op physiotherapy or pre-op physiotherapy.