Juvenile Arthritis

What is Juvenile Arthritis?

Juvenile Arthritis (JA) is joint inflammation that is diagnosed in an individual age 16 or younger. This joint inflammation causes joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and overall decreased joint mobility. Over 300,000 children in the U.S. have juvenile arthritis. The cause of arthritis is still unknown, although some studies point to a genetic link, indicating that the predisposition for arthritis may be passed down from parent to child.

The most common form of juvenile arthritis is known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). This condition has also been known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) and juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA) in the past but is now all encompassed into the term juvenile idiopathic arthritis. JIA is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions, occurring almost as often as type 1 diabetes. Symptoms of JIA include: joint swelling, stiffness, redness, warmth, pain, general fatigue, poor sleep, decreased hunger, and weight loss.

Treating Juvenile Arthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation, the goals of any arthritis treatment plan should be to control inflammation, relieve pain, prevent joint damage, and maximize ability to do every day things. This is typically done through a combination of medications, exercise/physical therapy, eye care, dental care, and proper nutrition.

Benefits of Therapeutic Exercise for Juvenile Arthritis Treatment

For children with juvenile arthritis, it is extremely important to keep the joints moving and the muscle strength up, which makes exercise an extremely important part of the treatment plan. Therapeutic exercise is unique because it encompasses manual therapy, exercise, stretching, and modalities which all work together to decrease pain and inflammation while restoring and maintaining function. Therapeutic exercise is the most effective treatment to restore lost motion in joints.

Aquatic Therapy as a form of Therapeutic Exercise

Aquatic Therapy is a unique form of therapeutic exercise that can be especially effective with chronic pain conditions. The buoyancy of the water alleviates the pressure on the joints and makes it easier to build muscle and increase joint range of motion. Water also offers a natural resistance which can help to strengthen muscles. Current studies have shown that aquatic therapy is the most beneficial form of therapeutic exercise for people who are non-weight bearing or have rheumatological diseases such as arthritis because of these natural characteristics of water. Aquatic Therapy also provides a different environment for healthcare than average visit in a doctor’s office. This can make going to therapy more enjoyable and therefore, increases patient compliance and increases the overall effectiveness of the program. Research shows that this is especially true for pediatric patients where resistance to go to therapy is typically high.


Interested in Aquatic Physical Therapy? Call us today at 414-858-1361 to set up your initial evaluation or check out our website at


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