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HD Physical Therapy Marks July as Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month
Arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues. Juvenile arthritis (JA) is a term used to describe conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger. It is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body's immune system—which normally helps to fight off bacteria or viruses—mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells and tissues. The result is inflammation, which can cause joint damage. Doctors do not know why the immune system attacks healthy tissues, but scientists suspect that it is a two-step process. First, something in a child's genetic makeup gives them a tendency to develop JA; then an environmental factor, such as a virus, triggers the development of disease.
The most common symptoms of juvenile arthritis are persistent joint swelling, pain and stiffness that are typically worse in the morning or after a nap. 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 for a physical exam plus lab work, x-rays and other tests.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for juvenile arthritis. The goal of treatment for JA is to control pain levels, reduce inflammation, maintain mobility and improve quality of life. Most treatment plans involve a combination of medication, physical therapy and healthy living; therefore, 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 can be part of your child's life – not the focus of their life.
The HDPT offices in Wakefield and Burlington have no waiting lists, are conveniently located right off major highways, have accessible hours, support Direct Access to care and accept every health insurance plan. The health and safety of our patients and staff is our top priority. We are adhering to all safety recommendations and guidelines. For more information, please visit https://www.HDPTonline.com and follow us on all social media platforms.