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Juvenile Arthritis

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

Let’s talk about Juvenile Arthritis Awareness. That’s right, juvenile! When most people hear about arthritis, they probably don’t first think of kids but did you know that approximately 300,000 children in the US have some type of arthritis? Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder that occurs before age 16. The mean age of onset is 1-3 years old and it affects twice as many girls as boys. With JIA, the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues making them irritated and inflamed, causing them to thicken and grow abnormally. It eventually causes damage to the bone and cartilage (padding) of the joint and surrounding tissues.

therapist or nurse wrapping child's knee with tape

COMMON SYMPTOMS: Many have periods without symptoms (remission) and periods of worsening symptoms (flareups).

  • Joint pain, stiffness, swelling.

  • Pain is more severe in the morning or after naps.

  • Pain is common in knees, hands, and feet.

  • Decreased range of motion.

  • Limp, due to pain in the lower body.

  • Joint deformities, abnormal growth.

  • Muscle aches

  • Extreme fatigue.

DIAGNOSIS: Patient and family history, symptoms, number of joints involved, lab tests, sometimes imaging.

CAUSE: Largely unknown. It may be due to environmental triggers, viral or bacterial infections, or genetic predisposition. Most experts believe it’s due to an overly active immune system.

TREATMENT: The goal is to stop or slow the progression of inflammation, relieve symptoms, improve function, and prevent more joint damage.

  • PT: Focuses on gentle range of motion, physical activity, stretching, joint protection, muscle relaxation, hot/cold packs, and may use a splint or orthotic to maintain normal bone and joint growth.

  • During a flare-up, rest and reduce symptoms. Treatment includes icing and performing a type of muscle strengthening called isometric contractions.

  • During periods of remission, stay active and involved in sports and activities with peers. This will help maintain range of motion, build and maintain strength, and can help decrease symptoms.

  • Top Physical Activities: Swimming, cycling, yoga, and tai chi. Swimming is great because it is low impact and does not require repetitive stress to load-bearing joints.

Kids Yoga Poses:

graphic with kids animal yoga poses

  • Medication for pain control, joint preparation for mobility, and treatment assist normal growth of a child.

Want to learn more? Check out this website:

Does your child have juvenile arthritis? Call Zion PT at (212) 353-8693 or email and we’ll start with an assessment, then treatment to help regain function, mobility, and decrease pain.

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