Exercise is particularly good for juvenile arthritis (JA). It keeps the joints mobile, the muscles strong, make everyday activities such as dressing, eating, writing or walking easier, and improves general fitness and endurance.
There are plenty of medications which reduce inflammation and pain, but therapeutic exercise can restore lost flexibility to a joint. An occupational therapist or physiotherapist can teach your child how to perform a variety of daily exercises at home, as well as how to prepare hot baths and hot or cold treatments before exercise.
Recreational activities are good for your child. They develop important social skills, confidence in their physical abilities, and help burn off the energy that youngsters seem to bubble with. Encourage activities that exercise muscles and joints without undue strain. If your child has JA, playing is not a substitute for regular therapeutic exercise.
To take part in sports you need to first be fit and flexible. You should tell your child that if they ever feel sore or uncomfortable they should stop – even in the middle of a hotly contested soccer match.
That said, encourage the child to find a sport he or she enjoys and to become involved in it. Contact sports such as rugby aren’t recommended, but vigorous ones such as soccer, hockey, netball and even basketball can be attempted during periods of disease remission (joint disease inactive).