Rest and joint protection for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

Children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) need a careful balance of rest and activity.

  • Children with JRA may need extra naps or quiet time during the day to rest their joints and to regain their strength. JRA can be a tiring disease, especially when symptoms flare. Some medications used to treat JRA may also cause tiredness.
  • Children are often good judges of their need for rest. Rest doesn't have to mean a nap. Reading quietly, watching a video, or listening to music is fine, too. Let your child help decide when and how much rest he or she needs.
  • While rest is important, it is just as important not to rest too much. Long periods without activity can cause your child's joints to stiffen and may eventually lead to weakness in unused muscles. Children who don't get enough activity are at greater risk for severe joint stiffening that results in deformities (contractures). Not being active also increases the chance that the child will become overweight.
  • It is also important not to overdo activity. Children often want to participate in activities with their friends and do not think about how they will feel the next day. Activity that causes pain or stiffness the following day is too much. That activity should be modified if tried again. For example, the child may play for a shorter time, or play with lighter equipment.

Last Updated: June 25, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology

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