There is no cure for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). The goals of treatment are to decrease pain and inflammation, maintain mobility and joint function, and minimize joint damage and complications. Treatment will vary from child to child and frequently varies over time.
In addition to getting appropriate rest and exercise and avoiding stress on the affected joints, children with JRA may take some medications. These can include pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to help slow the course of the disease, and biologic response modifiers to help reduce inflammation and damage to the joints. Immune suppressants may also be prescribed.
Physical therapy and regular exercise are very important. They can help maintain flexibility, range-of-motion, muscle strength, and joint mobility. Splints may be used in some cases to help keep a joint in the proper position. Hot and/or cold treatments may help relieve morning stiffness.
Some accommodations may need to be made at school and at home for children with JRA but, in most cases, they can lead and should be encouraged to lead relatively normal lives.