WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Juvenile arthritis (JA) is a long-term autoimmune disease that causes pain and inflammation in one or more joints. Some children have symptoms for only a few months, others for the rest of their lives. It happens when the immune system attacks the tissues in the joints. Most children with JA have periods of remission with minimal joint deformity or loss of function.
You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.
Surgery may cause your child to bleed or get an infection. If left untreated, JA can be very painful and cause problems with your child's growth and daily activities. JA may involve other organs in the body, such as the eyes, heart, or liver.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE:
A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.
Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.
- Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to decrease pain. Learn how often your child should get the medicine and how much he should get. Watch for signs of pain. Tell caregivers if his pain continues or gets worse.
- Antirheumatics: These may slow the progress of JA, and reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
- Steroids: These are given to decrease inflammation.
- Biologic therapy: These may help decrease joint swelling, pain, and stiffness. These medicines can increase the risk of serious infections and require careful monitoring.
- Joint x-ray: This is a picture of the bones and tissues in your child's joints. Your child may be given dye as a shot into the joint before the x-ray. This dye will help your child's joint show up better on the x-ray. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. A joint x-ray with dye is called an arthrogram.
- MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your child's joints. An MRI may show inflammation or joint damage. Your child may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if your child has any metal in or on his body.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can help teach your child exercises to help improve his movement and strength, and to decrease pain. An occupational therapist can teach him skills to help with play and daily activities.
- Surgery: This may be needed if your child's joints become severely affected. Surgery can be done to take out all or part of the joint and replace it with an artificial joint. This may be done to ease pain and repair the joint. It may also be done if the bones in your child's spine are pressing on the nerves.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.