Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disorder whereby the child's immune system attacks healthy joint and bone tissues causing extreme and even debilitating pain. The treatments typically used to manage this disease in children have some serious physical side effects, including limited bone growth and increased risk for broken and brittle bones. If you would prefer an alternative to managing your child's pain, you can try acupuncture. Your child will undoubtedly need some help and hand-holding to accept the treatments.
Helping Your Child Understand What Acupuncture Can Do
Most children are already terrified of needles. When you tell them that you are subjecting them to several needles in their backs to relieve pain, you should expect them to kick, scream and run the other way. Older children manage it better because they have lived several years with juvenile arthritis and want the pain to go away. Once you explain that the needles will not hurt that much, and that after the first pinch sensation they will not feel pain at all because their body will make its own pain medicine, your child may be more at ease with trying acupuncture.
Helping Your Child Stay Calm and Relaxed During Treatment
It is necessary to remain as relaxed as possible while the needles are inserted in key points along the nerve pathways in your child''s back. Some acupuncturists who treat children will suggest that you provide your child with a muscle relaxant prior to an appointment so it is easier to administer the treatment. You may also be in the room during treatment and hold your child's hands or provide him or her with something he or she associates with quiet time, like a stuffed toy or doll to hug.
Weaning Your Child off of Prescription Medications
The only way you can really know if acupuncture is right for your child's juvenile arthritis is to wean him or her off the medications and see how much pain remains after an acupuncture treatment. Do not wean him or her off of any medication without first getting the rheumatologist's permission! The doctor will inform you on how you can do this safely, so your child is not in danger of potential health risks from removing the medication too quickly. Also, the slow weaning will allow you and the doctor to slowly increase the amount of medication again if acupuncture does not work for your child. Talk to experts like Advanced PMR for more information.