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Ankylosing Spondylitis & Related Diseases Information
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The treatment regimen for your child with JSpA should be individualized according to how severe the disease is and whether there are complications. Generally, treatment should consist of education and counseling, physical therapy and exercise, as well as medication.

Education and Counseling
Even in its mild forms, JSpA can affect your child's normal daily routines. It is important to keep your child's daily life as normal as possible to prevent any undue emotional stress. One way to do this is for you as a parent to stay informed and educated about child's condition. Also, it is a good idea to inform your child's teachers and school of his/her condition, and make them aware of any special needs he or she may have - such as seating and the need to stretch.

Attitude is important when dealing with a chronic illness, and sustaining a positive outlook can be difficult to maintain. JSpA can take a toll emotionally as well as physically. A parent with strong coping techniques will be able to pass on a positive outlook and attitude on to a child.

Some families may find that psychological support is helpful in coping with the hardships JSpA can produce. Seeking professional help from a social worker or psychologist may be beneficial if the need should arise.

Physical Therapy and Exercise
Areas of physical activity that are important to emphasize are stretching exercises, posture and daily exercise. Simple stretching exercises for the range of motion in the chest, back and other joints may be helpful depending on the specific joints affected. Paying attention to posture will jeep the head, shoulders and back well aligned and will help reduce pain and fatigue.

Whenever possible, your child should participate in gym and other physical activities. Remaining active will help your child stay involved with his/her peers and lead a normal life. Before returning to a physical activity, make sure all concerned parties such as teachers and coaches are informed of any limitations your child may have.

The medications prescribed for JSpA are much the same as would be prescribed to adults suffering from AS or related disease.

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are still the cornerstone of treatment and the first stage of medication is in treating the pain and stiffness associated with JSpA. However, NSAIDs can cause significant side effects, in particular, damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

When NSAIDs are not enough, the next stage of medications, (also known as second line medications), are sometimes called disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. This group of medications include: Sulfasalazine, Methotrexate and Corticosteroids.

The most recent and most promising medications for treating AS and related diseases are the biologics, or Tumor-Necrosis-Factor alpha (TNF-a) blockers. These biologic medications that have shown great promise in treating ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases. Studies have shown that these drugs can potentially slow or even halt the progression of ankylosing spondylitis in some people. However, to date there are no studies of these treatments in children with JSpA, and therefore no recommendations to date. Although studies in children will need to be done, TNF blockers are already used for other types of childhood arthritis and therefore are likely to be relatively safe and effective in JSpA.

Click here to learn more in our JSpA Medications section.

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