Juvenile Arthritis – How PT Can Help

by Monica Zeisz PT, DPT


Arthritis is not just an adult disease; it happens in children too.


What is Juvenile Arthritis?

  • An autoimmune disorder by which healthy cells and tissues are attacked by the body’s own immune system; essentially joint inflammation produced from an overactive immune response.



  • Children and adolescents under 16 years old; all races, ethnicities and genders.



  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis affects approximately 300,000 American children (multiple types, all with similar presentation).



  • Idiopathic means “unknown” causes – suspect genetics exacerbated by viral or environmental components.


Signs & Symptoms:

  • Joint pain, swelling, stiffness, warmth
  • Eye inflammation
  • Fever
  • Skin irritation, rash
  • Uneven growth
  • Limping in the morning due to stiffness



  • Signs & symptoms
  • Family history
  • Imaging: X-ray
  • Lab testing



  • Flare vs. remission – some children may have a few flares; others may have long-lasting flare and remission cycles.



  • Team approach led by Pediatric Rheumatologist; this incorporates the child and family.
  • Combination of healthy lifestyle, medication and other healthcare involvement for physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Physical Therapy! – We can help relieve pain through modalities, reduce joint stiffness with promotion of mobility, joint mobility and flexibility, strengthen for joint stability and support, encourage participation in physical activity vs. rest when appropriate, as well as assist with prevention of injury.



  • National Institute of Health is doing further investigation on causes, treatment and pain science in children.



Arthritis Research | Arthritis National Research Foundation (curearthritis.org)

Help Your Child Live Better with Juvenile Arthritis

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) (nih.gov)