While I like watching sports, I have never been an athletic person. So, naturally, gym class was always my least favorite.
But my disdain for gym class went beyond not enjoying the games we played and being picked last for teams. I also hated that I seemed to trip and fall or get hit by things a lot, probably due to clumsiness from JA. Then, I would always be told to “walk it off!”
If I’m ever told to “walk it off” again, it’ll be too soon!
Whether it was a gym teacher or a stranger who said it, that phrase has a tendency to grind my gears. I was a kid with juvenile arthritis trying to participate in games — I knew what it meant to push through the pain. So, when I fell or was hit, I wanted a moment to collect myself. I knew from experience that sometimes trauma can bring on a flare, and I wanted to sit, rest, and test out the joint that was hurt to make sure it was OK.
Injuries might hurt a little more
I know many parents want to raise their kids to get back on the horse when they fall, so that they’re tough and able to work past a little discomfort. But I think it’s important to keep in mind that everyday injuries might be a bit more painful for kids with JA. It may even take them longer to recover.
Falling or being hit on a joint affected by arthritis may cause extra joint pain and swelling. Your child may even experience a flare if the joint is badly aggravated. My friends who grew up with JA and I have tales of hitting a joint just the right way — or should I say the wrong way — and waking up the next morning with a flare.
Walk it off with compassion
While I don’t propose putting kids in a bubble, it’s essential to be compassionate toward your child’s injuries. There’s a vast difference between caring for your child’s health and babying them, and kids with JA need to learn the steps they need to take to care for themselves as they grow and become more independent. It’s important to acknowledge if something hurts and avoid aggravating it.
Yes, try to walk it off. But don’t push it if there is pain, redness, or swelling. If this happens to your child, offer ice, rest, and possibly medication if you feel it’s necessary. Call a pediatric rheumatologist if the joint doesn’t get better. And most importantly, model the steps your child should take in caring for themselves as they get older.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to juvenile arthritis.
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