– Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month

Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month

arthritis headerDid you know that children under the age of 16 can develop arthritis? They can, and in fact, juvenile arthritis is more common than you might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “A 2007 CDC study estimates that 294,000 US children younger than age 18 (or 1 of 250 children) have been diagnosed with arthritis or another rheumatologic condition. These estimates include:

  • 16,000 classified as rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory polyarthropathies.
  • 92,000 with synovitis and tenosynovitis.
  • 67,000 with myalgia and myositis, unspecified.”

Juvenile Arthritis, an umbrella term for “a group of conditions occurring among children that include some form of chronic arthritis,” according to the CDC , is a common childhood chronic disease. It is important to recognize the effect that this has on our nation and take steps to care for and prevent arthritis in children, which is why we recognize July as Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month.

A big way to help children with arthritis is proper exercise. According to an article on The Arthritis Foundation’s website, exercise can help improve the life of a child with arthritis. The article states, “Perhaps the most important thing to know about exercise for children with arthritis is that it does no harm. They can exercise and should.” Not only did a 2007 Canadian Study published in Arthritis Care & Research show that aerobic exercise helped children with arthritis immensely, but a review study conducted by the University of Hartford, Connecticut saw that “exercise may positively affect a common secondary condition associated with JIA [Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis], low bone mineral density,” (Arthritis Foundation).

Exercise is highly beneficial, but how can one develop a workout routine that doesn’t cause pain?

According to the Arthritis Foundation, frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise must all be taken into consideration when developing an exercise routine. The article states that starting slow and growing to once/week will help to keep joints lubricated. The types of exercises for those with arthritis include low-impact aerobic exercise, muscle-strengthening exercise, and balance exercise.


The article also states that choosing one of the following timing options will assist in developing a regular fitness schedule:

  1. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, which equals 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
  2. OR 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week.
  3. OR an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous exercise.”

In addition to maintaining an exercise routine, there are a variety of home-remedies to help with arthritis symptoms. In an article from WebMD, some home treatments for Juvenile Arthritis include range of motion exercises, resting joints when needed, and using assistive devices to help with movement.

Eating well, getting regular exercise and minimizing side-effects with home-treatments can significantly improve the life of a child who has Juvenile Arthritis, according to Mayo Clinic.  Mayo Clinic recommends applying heat or cold packs when stiffness occurs. Taking a hot bath or shower, as well as using cold packs, will help minimize the side-effect of stiffness in Juvenile Arthritis.

If you or someone you know suffers from juvenile arthritis, encourage them to be active and develop an exercise routine this month. Swimming is a great non-impact exercise to get kids’ joints moving, especially during the summer months. Moving joints and muscles daily can be the best thing for a child with arthritis (and adults, too!).

Some of our YMCA Branches offer an Arthritis Foundation YMCA Aquatics Program for adults who have limited joint motion, strength or cardio-respiratory function. In addition, open-swim and a variety of other aquatics programs and swim lessons are available and offer a great non-impact workout. For more information on YMCA aquatics programs, click HERE.

Children with arthritis can and should stay active. This July, let’s spread the word about this condition and help the children you know with juvenile arthritis live their lives to the fullest by staying active and healthy.

– Emily Sanville, Digital Communications Coordinator

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