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Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: Range-of-Motion Exercises

Topic Overview

Children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) must do regular range-of-motion exercises to prevent contractures and to maintain joint range and flexibility.

If your child is 4 years old or younger, an adult will need to move the child's joints through the range-of-motion exercises. This is called passive range of motion. The adult will gently move the joints from a bent position to a straightened position several times. Range-of-motion exercises may be painful during a flare of arthritis. So it is very important to be gentle. Exercises should be done at least twice a day. And they should be reviewed now and then by a physical therapist.

Older children can do the exercises themselves but may still need adult supervision. Children need support and encouragement from the family to continue exercises.

Also, encourage your child to participate in low-impact sports, such as swimming, biking, or rowing. These aerobic exercises are good for the heart and lungs, build strength, and keep joints flexible. Doing activities like these with other children helps improve a child's ability to function and builds self-confidence. It may also reduce pain, disability, and the need for medicines.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Last Revised June 5, 2012

Last Revised: June 5, 2012

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