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Juvenile arthritis (JA)

Introduction

Juvenile arthritis (JA) is also known as paediatric rheumatic disease. JA is not a disease in and of itself, but rather an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions or paediatric rheumatic diseases that can develop in children under the age of 16.

There are various types of juvenile arthritis. While many of them share several common symptoms – such as pain, joint swelling, redness and warmth – each type of JA is distinct and has its own specific concerns and symptoms. Some types of juvenile arthritis affect the musculoskeletal system, however joint symptoms are often minor or non-existent. Juvenile arthritis can also involve the eyes, skin, muscles and gastrointestinal tract (Arthritis Foundation, 2019).

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is considered the most common form of arthritis. JIA includes six subtypes: oligoarthritis, polyarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic arthritis, enthesitis-related and undifferentiated arthritis. Unfortunately, there is no cure for JIA, but with early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, remission is possible. The goal of treatment would be to relieve inflammation, control pain and improve the child’s quality of life. Most treatment plans involve a combination of medication, physical activity, eye care and healthy eating. (https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/juvenile-arthriis) [Accessed 201907-16]

Calming Mind and Body

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

People with arthritis can use cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to reshape their response to chronic pain and unhelpful thought patterns, says Dr. Buxton from the Arthritis Foundation. “CBT, which teaches people to recognise and change negative thought patterns, can also really change the way people view the world and how they’re coping,” he says. Studies have shown, for example, that six weeks of cognitive behavioural therapy improves depression, fatigue and feelings of helplessness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Psychologists and other therapists are currently the only practitioners that can deliver CBT, but researchers are looking at ways to expand people’s access – they are even looking into internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy! Rheumatology nurses are also being trained in the technique.

Mindfulness practices

Meditation, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture and similar practices can help to distract the mind from pain. These are powerful tools for reducing the impact of chronic discomfort, says Dr. Buxton.

Exercise

It is difficult to get moving when you’re in pain, but the Arthritis Foundation has some helpful suggestions on how people with arthritis can start a gentle exercise regime to achieve a level of comfort. Regular physical activity can have the same effect on patients experiencing depression and anxiety as prescription antidepressants. In people with oligoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other types of arthritis, it also relieves pain and improves mobility. (https: //www.arthritis.or.living-with-arthritis/pain-management/undertanding/arthriti.) [Accessed 17-07-2019]

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Reinhold Niebuhr