Hesperian Health Guides
Managing Juvenile Arthritis
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The child will need:
- medicine to relieve the pain and help prevent damage to the joints
- plenty of rest, keeping the body in good positions
- exercises and movement to prevent contractures and deformities, and to keep the muscles strong
- mental, physical, and social activities, so that the child’s life is full and satisfying
- if necessary, aids, and braces or casts to correct contractures and to help the child to move about
Aspirin and ibuprofen are usually the safest and best medicines. They not only help the pain, but also reduce swelling and damage in the joints. For precautions and doses, see the INFORMATION SHEET.
WARNING! Indomethacin (Indocin), phenylbutazone, and related medicines should not be given to children. They cause holes in the stomach (ulcers) and are not more effective than aspirin or ibuprofen. If a doctor prescribes one of these medicines for a child, get advice from other doctors.
Corticosteroids have a strong anti-inflammatory effect but they are dangerous. Steroids make the child’s body less able to fight infection, stop his growth, and weaken his bones so that they break easily. If the child takes a lot of steroids, his face becomes round and a hump of fat forms on the back of his neck and shoulder. As a rule, steroids should be used only when the child’s life or eyesight' is in danger. Steroid eyedrops at the first signs of iritis can prevent blindness.