Updated 19 January 2017

Juvenile arthritis and exercise

Exercise is particularly good for juvenile arthritis (JA). It keeps the joints mobile, the muscles strong, 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 to combat juvenile arthritis at home, as well as how to prepare hot baths and hot or cold treatments before exercise.

Read: Helping kids fight arthritis 

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.

Read: Hidden pain: juvenile arthritis

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).

Read more:

JA and children

Juvenile arthritis and educators 

Managing juvenile arthritis at school


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Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

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