Hesperian Health Guides

Managing Juvenile Arthritis

In this chapter:

The child will need:

  1. medicine to relieve the pain and help prevent damage to the joints
  2. plenty of rest, keeping the body in good positions
  3. exercises and movement to prevent contractures and deformities, and to keep the muscles strong
  4. mental, physical, and social activities, so that the child’s life is full and satisfying


Ibuprofen is usually the safest and best medicine. It not only helps the pain, but also reduces swelling and damage in the joints. For precautions and doses, see “Medicines for Pain”.

Indomethacin (Indocin) is less safe for children than ibuprofen. Do not give to children under 2, and for older children use the smallest dose that works to avoid heart and liver problems.

Never use phenylbutazone. This is a drug for animals and should not be used by people.

For patients who have not responded to ibuprofen completely, other medicines such as sulfasalazine, gold, hydroxychloroquine, and methotrexate are available. These medicines should be used only by experts who treat arthritis.

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Children who take corticosteroids for long periods of time can develop “moon face” and a hump of fat on the back of the neck

Corticosteroids such as prednisone, have a strong anti-inflammatory effect but also can cause serious health problems. Corticosteroids weaken bones, slow growth, and make a child's body less able to fight infection. Corticosteroids should be used at the lowest dose possible and for the shortest amount of time possible.

This page was updated:04 Apr 2024