Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) was previously called Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. JIA is a condition in which children experience stiffness, pain and swelling in one or many joints for greater than 6 weeks. JIA typically starts before the age of 16.
There are 3 type of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis:

  1. Oligoarticular JIA: Affects 4 or fewer joints. Inflammation of the iris (colored area of eye) can occur.
  2. Polyarticular JIA: Affects five or more joints. Rheumatoid nodules (bumps) may become present at joints as well.
  3. Systemic JIA: Affects all the joints in the body and affects internal organs as well.

Associated symptoms

JIA symptoms can be subtle or more obvious depending on the child. Children may experience stiffness and swelling in joints. They may limp when walking or complain of joint soreness. Some children have unexplained fevers and rashes in multiple areas.

Description of rehab evaluation

A Physical Therapy Evaluation may include:
  • Review of medical history, medical diagnoses, family past medical history, and any recent diagnostic testing.
  • Assessment of motion and strength of neck, back, arms, and legs, posture, swelling, pain, endurance, balance, coordination and extremity alignment.
  • Assessment of how your child walks and performs movements required throughout the day.
  • Your child should wear loose and comfortable clothing that will allow child to move and to allow the therapist to examine the arms and legs.

Common rehab treatment interventions

If treatment is recommended, plan of care may include:

  • Strengthening exercises for weak muscles 
  • Stretching exercises for tight muscles
  • Posture education
  • Activities for pain control
  • Screening for need of extremity splinting or orthotic management
  • Recreational activity recommendations
  • Referral to other specialties as needed

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