Sometimes, the simplest things in life are best. We’ve all witnessed kids playing with the boxes that held their expensive toys, or cats sleeping in a paper bag instead of their new beds. The most basic things can get the job done.
When thinking of ways to help kids with juvenile arthritis (JA), complex medicines and fancy splints come to mind. But keeping it simple can help and comfort them.
Following are five ways you can use water to help your child with JA:
First and foremost, drink plenty of water. Some medicines used to treat JA, such as methotrexate, can be dehydrating. Encourage your child to bring a water bottle to school and other activities. A pitcher of fresh ice water put out at every meal also can be appealing.
One of the best exercises for people with inflammatory arthritis is swimming. When swimming, about 90 percent of your body weight is supported by water, making it a low-impact way to strengthen your muscles. Older kids may enjoy activities such as water aerobics, but any activity in the pool is beneficial.
Take a bath
Warm water is a great way to relieve pain and stiffness. I’ve always enjoyed a soak in the tub to cope with JA. Not only did it help soothe the pain of my achy joints, but also it helped to wash away the irritability that the pain caused. It also can be an excellent way to start the day if your child wakes up very stiff.
Make time in the tub enjoyable. Little ones may like to draw with bath crayons or paints, which can double as physical therapy for painful finger joints. Older ones may want to add in essential oils, listen to music, or read a book.
If your child has psoriasis, scleroderma, or eczema, be wary of bath products such as bath bombs. Children with juvenile scleroderma benefit from soothing baths containing baby oil and other gentle ingredients. Those with psoriasis may benefit from oatmeal baths, but should limit tub time to 15 minutes, once a day.
Hot water bottles
Hot water bottles and moist heat packs can be a great way to relieve stiffness when a bath isn’t an option. Use heat for no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and make sure to use a towel as a buffer between the pad and your child’s skin.
Ice can be used to help your child’s swollen joints. While it may not be as comforting as heat, it is useful for reducing inflammation. I’ve found it most helpful after I overuse a joint, but it can be a little uncomfortable and some kids may not like it. Make sure to wrap cold packs in a towel and use them for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
Who thought something as simple as water could help kids with JA feel better?
Note: Juvenile Arthritis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Juvenile Arthritis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to juvenile arthritis.