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HD Physical Therapy Marks July as Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month
Most forms of juvenile arthritis are autoimmune disorders, which means that the body’s immune system—which normally helps to fight off bacteria or viruses—mistakenly attacks some of its own healthy cells and tissues. The result is inflammation, marked by redness, heat, pain and swelling. This inflammation can cause joint damage. Doctors do not know why the immune system attacks healthy tissues in children who develop JA. Scientists suspect that it is a two-step process. First, something in a child’s genetic makeup gives him or her a tendency to develop JA; then an environmental factor, such as a virus, triggers the development of the disease.
The most common symptom of all types of juvenile arthritis is persistent joint swelling, pain and stiffness that is typically worse in the morning or after a nap. The pain may limit movement of the affected joint, although many children, especially younger ones, will not complain of pain. JA commonly affects the knees and the joints in the hands and feet. One of the earliest signs of JA may be limping in the morning because of an affected knee.
The most important step in properly treating your child’s JA is getting an accurate diagnosis. The diagnostic process can be long and detailed. The child’s pediatrician will likely recommend that you visit a pediatric rheumatologist who will then take a complete health history and exam to determine the length of time and type of symptoms present. Along with the physical exam itself, your child’s doctors may take a number of other diagnostic steps – such as laboratory work and x-rays and other imaging tests - in part to rule out other potential causes of symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for juvenile arthritis. The goal of treatment for JA is to relieve inflammation, control pain and improve your child’s quality of life. Most treatment plans involve a combination of medication, various therapies and healthy living. A general exercise program is an important part of a child’s treatment plan; an important member of your child’s health care team is their physical therapist. A PT can work with your child to develop a plan of exercises that will improve joint function and strengthen muscles, without causing further harm to affected joints. Having arthritis should be part of your child’s life – not the central focus of his life.
At HD Physical Therapy, ADVANCE Magazine's 2013 ‘Best PT Practice Contest’ silver medalist & the Wakefield Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year, we are committed to the health and happiness of our patients. Everyday we work to restore each person's maximal function with consistency and compassion. Offering distinctive, inventive and proven rehabilitation treatment, our devoted professionals strive to deliver a successful and enjoyable experience to every patient we meet. HDPT proudly serves the communities of Wakefield, Reading, North Reading, Wilmington, Lynnfield, Saugus, Melrose, Peabody, Stoneham, the North Shore, and Essex County, Massachusetts. For more information about HD Physical Therapy, please call 781-587-0776, or visit www.HDPTonline.com.