How did my child get Juvenile Arthritis (JA)? What a terrible question to have to ask a doctor, but it's a question more than 20,000 parents ask annually.
If you are one of those parents, the short answer is 'We don't know." More importantly though, you need to understand this is certainly not your fault.' It may be that your child has a unique genetic composition that predisposes them to JA, (although a poor example, an alcoholic with a predominant gene known as THIQ is predisposed to substance abuse.)
To help answer this question for you, don't forget to watch the video further down the page.
Furthermore genes may well form part of a two step process with environmental factors playing a large role.
JA is a loose term for what is also know as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) which may result in visual deformities of the body as well as excruciating pain. It is not uncommon for young adults to have disfigured hands or feet due to joint ailments.
Because juvenile arthritis strikes at such a young age, the impact can be extremely severe, but not just upon the child. Arthritis impacts the whole family and when it attacks a child for whatever reason the devastation is exacerbated. Contact us for more info.
As a parent your fight is really conducted on two fronts. Firstly you will need to deal with the physical horrors, and this may become a very traumatic experience. Secondly, there is the often unrecognised issue of social stigma, particularly if your child shows visible symptoms and moves through the very difficult time of adolescence.
It is absolutely vital that as soon as you aware your child has a problem with JA that you begin to institute not only a healthy diet, but also bring about a solid, but fun exercise regime.
Often a child may experience a loss of appetite, resulting in weight loss, this is often due to side effects of certain medications. Conversely she may also experience a consistent weight gain, also a common side effect for some medications.
Aim for a diet that is high in calcium, potassium, omega 3's and lechithin. Fresh fruit is great. It has tons of vitamins, and is a natural source of sugar.Of all fruits though the nopal fruit is king. You may wish to use a blender to make smoothies, or a juicer, even add 60 mls of nopal fruit juice, but whatever tactics you use, make it fun, and colorful.
Remember, this is supposed to be fun, and although it may be difficult for you at first, try not to show your own emotions, because your child will feed from this.
Although exercising may make your child’s muscles sore, you should be careful they do not cause any pain in the joint itself. Stop the exercise if your child complains of joint pain.
To encourage compliance, consider setting a regular time and location for your child’s exercises with a reward afterward. These should be performed on a firm but padded surface, such as a carpeted floor. Using an exercise mat will help, not only to provide padding, but also to define the fact that this is a structured regime, so it won't go on for ever.
Also, consider doing the exercises with your child and getting her siblings to join in, too. You can make this as much fun as you wish and if your child is under 10 playing with trains, dolls and Lego can be therapeutic for everyone (yes, you too).