Still’s disease is a type of arthritis. It is also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) or systemic onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). This rheumatologic disease, which affects children, is characterized by chronic pain, inflammation and stiffness in one or multiple joints. Just as in the case of other forms of arthritis, people suffering from Still’s disease experience flare-ups followed by remission of symptoms before the next attack.
Still’s disease is an autoimmune disease that occurs when due to underlying genetic or environmental factors, the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. As there is no cure for Still’s disease, children suffering from this illness require lifestyle modifications to minimize the risk of arthritis flare-ups.
How To Deal With Still’s Disease
Children with Still’s disease should exercise daily to maintain the health and function of the joints affected by arthritis. Physical activities should not be avoided even during flare-ups. Swimming and water aerobics is best suited for children with Still’s disease.
Water acts as a cushion, reducing stress on the joints while exercising. Walking and bicycling are also considered safe for Still’s disease patients. Practicing stretching exercises before workouts are recommended for strengthening the muscles. Apart from improving flexibility of the joints, these workouts help to prepare the body for higher intensity activities.
Health problems are common in children with Still’s disease. Children suffering from this form of juvenile arthritis tend to suffer from poor appetite that impair adequate intake of nutritious foods. In some cases, inadequate physical activities due to arthritis pain and side effects of medications cause unintended weight gain.
A healthy diet is essential for meeting the daily calorie requirement and maintaining healthy body weight. Still’s disease weakens the bones. Hence, Still’s disease patients should consume sufficient amount of dairy, nuts and leafy green vegetables and other calcium rich foods to maintain the mineral density of the bone.
Take Appropriate Medications
Make sure that your child receives appropriate medications for reducing pain and inflammation during the arthritis flare-ups. While nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can reduce swelling and pain, they cannot provide long-term relief.
For preventing recurrent arthritis flare-ups, your doctor may recommend disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, corticosteroids or tumor necrosis factor blockers. To slow down the activities of an overactive immune system, immune suppressants are recommended for preventing flare-ups. However, these drugs increase the risk of infections. Hence, proper precautions should be taken to protect the child from microbial infections.
It is not easy for a child diagnosed with Still’s disease to manage stress. Parents should help their children to cope with the stress of living with arthritis. Treat your child as any other healthy kid of your family.
Encourage your child to talk about his/her problems. Convince the child that he/she can lead a normal life despite arthritis. Exercises that help to balance the mind and the body such as yoga and tai chi are beneficial for kids.
Try Alternative Therapies
Alternative therapies help to reduce dependence on pharmacological arthritis drugs. Fish oil pills, turmeric and ginger are safe and effective anti-inflammatory agents that can be taken for preventing arthritis flare-ups. Therapeutic massages and hot and cold packs are also helpful in reducing pain and inflammation.