Tips for Managing an Arthritis Flare Up During the Holiday Season

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The holiday season is just around the corner, which often means an increase in activities, travel, and stress. This is a wonderful time of year to spend with loved ones, but unfortunately, unexpected side effects often occur among arthritis sufferers.

Arthritis pain at this time may become so severe that individuals don’t even feel like participating in all the fun and festive activities. Fortunately, there are certain arthritis flare up triggers that can be avoided and measures that can be taken to manage the pain during this time of the year.

Here is some information about why an arthritis flare up occurs, arthritis flare up foods, and tips for managing flare ups during the holiday season.

What Is an Arthritis Flare Up?

Arthritis pain often comes and goes over time, and an arthritis flare up is an episode of severe pain.1 Flares can last just a few days and be treated easily, last longer than a week and require reduced activity, or last several weeks and require more serious treatment options. Flare ups can be mild, moderate, or severe and are triggered by many of the things people experience during the holiday season.

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Arthritis Flare Up Foods

Food is a big part of celebrating holidays, but certain foods can actually make arthritis symptoms worse. In particular, foods that can cause inflammation also tend to cause flare ups and should be avoided.2,3 The list of arthritis flare up foods includes sugar, fatty meats, dairy, and gluten. It is also a good idea to limit one’s intake of coffee, soda, alcohol, salt, and processed foods as much as possible to prevent flare ups.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Up Triggers

In addition to certain foods, there are other triggers that can bring on rheumatoid arthritis pain around the holidays. The cold weather that many people experience during the holiday season is a trigger for RA.4,5 Other rheumatoid arthritis flare up triggers are stress from cooking and shopping obligations, fatigue from not getting enough sleep, and illnesses caused by common winter sicknesses.6 Increased travel around the holidays, whether by car or plane, can also lead to increased stiffness of the joints.

How to Manage Arthritis Flare Up Pain

The best way to prevent an arthritis flare up is to avoid the aforementioned triggers, but of course, this is not always possible. It is important for everyone to reduce stress levels during the holidays, but especially for arthritis sufferers whose symptoms are made worse by stress. Self-care techniques, such as getting a massage or taking a warm bath, can go a long way in preventing stress-related flare ups.7,8

JointFlex may be used topically to relieve joint pain quickly and without a prescription. Make sure to bring a tube along to holiday events in case an arthritis flare up begins unexpectedly. People with arthritis must remember to take their medications during the busy holiday season and not forget doses due to schedule changes. Cool packs can be used to reduce inflammation of the joints, while warm packs can soothe persistent joint pain at family gatherings.9 Other ways to manage flare up pain at holiday events is to take stretching breaks between long periods of sitting, use a brace or cane during walking activities, and take time to rest when needed.6

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1. Freeman, G. Arthritis flares are normal but still difficult. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
2. DeVries, C. (2016 November 4). In the kitchen with arthritis: Foods to avoiding. Arthritis Health. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
3. Eight food ingredients that can cause inflammation. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
4. Your local weather. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
5. Watson, S. Understanding RA flares. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
6. How to beat arthritis fatigue. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
7. Warm water works wonders on pain. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from
8. Bernstein, S. Types of massages. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from
9. Foltz-Gray, D. Fight arthritis pain without pills. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from

Understanding De Quervain Syndrome and What Causes It

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There are many different types of joint pain, including conditions involving just a single body part.

One example is de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which affects the thumb and causes it to become inflamed, painful, and numb.1,2,3 The tendons at the base of the thumb become swollen with this condition, which creates pressure on the surrounding nerves. This makes it very painful to grab items, make a fist, or turn the wrist – all very common and necessary motions in daily life.

Here is a discussion of what De Quervain’s syndrome is, the tests to diagnose it, what triggers it, and how to find relief for this painful condition sometimes referred to as “mommy’s thumb.”

Causes and Triggers of “Mommy Thumb”

Repetitive use of the hands and the stresses of lifting objects often leads to the development of de Quervain syndrome. People whose jobs or hobbies involve repetitive hand motions are more likely to develop this condition. It is most common among women over the age of 40, in pregnant women, in people who have arthritis, and in people who have injured their wrist in the past.2,3,5

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The condition is sometimes referred to as mommy’s thumb because it often triggered by traditional “mom tasks” like lifting children and bags of groceries. In new mothers, the condition commonly appears within six months of delivering a baby. However, anyone of any age can develop de Quervain’s syndrome.

De Quervain’s Syndrome Symptoms

The most common of all de Quervain’s syndrome symptoms is a pain at the base of the thumb.2 However, this pain may radiate up into the wrist and the forearm as well. In severe cases, individuals with this syndrome may notice a bulge on the thumb that is actually a cyst filled with fluid. The back of the thumb may feel numb, a squeaking sound may be heard when the tendons move, and a snapping sensation may be felt when the thumb moves.

The De Quervain Test/ The Finkelstein Test

A test called the Finkelstein test is usually conducted to determine if a patient has de Quervain syndrome.2,3 This test involves bending the thumb to rent on the palm, making a fist, closing the fingers over the thumb, and bending the wrist. Pain at the base of the thumb following this exercise may suggest the presence of de Quervain syndrome. This is because the motion of bending the wrist towards the outside of the hand causes swollen tendons to become stretched and strained.

The Eichhoff test is a modification of the Finkelstein test but is more likely to produce false positive results.4 X-rays are not typically needed to diagnose this condition, and primary care doctors and usually make this diagnosis fairly easily.

Finding Relief for De Quervain’s

It is best to avoid activities that involve repetitive hand and wrist motions to relieve de Quervain pain.6 Doctors often recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, arthritis pain relief creams like JointFlex, applying heat or ice, and wearing a splint to stabilize and rest the thumb. Wearing a splint for 24 hours a day is typically recommended for this condition. 6

In severe cases, it may be necessary to discuss injecting anesthetics or steroids into the tendon to reduce pain and swelling.1 The recovery time varies greatly based on whether the disorder has developed suddenly or gradually, the age of the patient, and how long the symptoms have existed.

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1. Steinberg, D. R. (2018 August). De Quervain syndrome. Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/hand-disorders/de-quervain-syndrome.
2. De Quervain’s tendinosis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from–conditions/de-quervains-tendinosis/.
3. Starecki, M. J. (2017 October 17). De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Sports Health. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from
4. Wu, F., Rajpura, A., & Sandher, D. (2018 August). Finkelstein’s test is superior to Eichhoff’s test in the investigation of de Quervain’s disease. Journal of Hand and Microsurgery, 10, 116-118. DOI: 10.1055/s-0038-1626690. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from National Center for Biotechnology Information
5. De Quervain’s disease. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from
6. Starecki, M. J. (2017 October 17). Nonsurgical treatment for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Sports Health. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from

Arthritis During Pregnancy: What Women Can Expect When Expecting

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Women’s bodies go through many changes during pregnancy, and some preexisting conditions can even worsen during these formative nine months. One such condition is arthritis, as many pregnant women experience increased pain in various joints of the body.

This is very normal and common, but pregnant women often wonder what the best ways are to treat the pain they are feeling. Arthritis flare-ups can happen during any stage of pregnancy but are often worst in the first trimester.

This article will describe what women with arthritis should expect during various stages of pregnancy, including the first trimester. It will also address treatment options for pregnant women who are experiencing joint pain.

Relationship Between Arthritis and Pregnancy

Arthritis affects joints in the body, and the extra weight that women carry during pregnancy can increase the amount of pressure on the joints.1,6 Many pregnant women with arthritis feel increased pressure in the knees and spine, which can cause numbness and muscle spasms.

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With the new water weight, pregnant women may also experience stiffness in the hips, ankles, feet, and wrists.6 But interestingly, some women actually report having fewer symptoms of arthritis during pregnancy than they normally do when not pregnant.

RA and Pregnancy

Pregnant women who have rheumatoid arthritis often experience increased fatigue in the first trimester due to their joint issues.2 But the good news is that most women experience a relief of this pain as the second trimester begins.2,3,4,5 Theories as to why this happens to include gradual adaptations to hormonal changes and increased levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines.

When women enter their third trimester, RA symptoms typically remain mild.4 However, the symptoms may worsen again with the final weight gain as the delivery date approaches. Women with RA are at a slightly higher risk of having a premature baby or delivering by Cesarean section. Post-partum arthritis flare-ups are also common among women who experienced worsened arthritis pain during pregnancy.

Arthritis Back Symptoms

Even pregnant women who don’t have any form of arthritis often feel back pain.1,5 However, arthritis sufferers experience this to an even greater degree.2 Arthritis back symptoms during pregnancy include aching pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, and back fatigue.

Treating Arthritis During Pregnancy

The way that a woman normally treats arthritis is likely to change during pregnancy due to the risk of medication on an unborn baby. Instead of oral medications that come with a risk of side effects, doctors may recommend topical arthritis pain relief creams, like JointFlex. Fortunately, the worsened arthritis symptoms during pregnancy will often subside once the baby is born.

Light exercise on a regular basis can help alleviate joint pain in pregnant women,7 as well as hot and cold therapy.8 Women can try taking a warm bath, using a heating pad, or placing an ice pack on sore joints. Massage, acupuncture, and herbal treatments may be recommended by a doctor too. Pregnant women with arthritis should also avoid wearing high heels, practice good posture, and try deep breathing and relaxation techniques to reduce pain and discomfort.

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1. Pregnancy and arthritis. University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. Retrieved October 23, 2018 from
2. DeVries, C. (2015 April 21). What you should know about arthritis and pregnancy. Arthritis Health. Retrieved October 19, 2018 from
3. Why pregnancy pauses the pain of arthritis. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Retrieved October 23, 2018 from
4. Dunkin, M. A. Rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 23, 2018 from
5. Østensen, M., Fuhrer, L., Mathieu, R., Seitz, M., & Villiger, P. M. (2004). A prospective study of pregnant patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis using validated clinical instruments. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, 63, 1212-1217. DOI:
6. Back pain during pregnancy. (2016). American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Retrieved October 23, 2018 from
7. Silva, A. (2004 December 24). Exercise for back pain during pregnancy. Spine Health. Retrieved October 23, 2018 from
8. Using heat and cold for pain relief. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 23, 2018 from

The Connection Between Chronic Arthritis Pain and Emotions

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Arthritis is often considered to be a strictly physical condition, but it can have profound effects on one’s emotional well-being as well. Not only can pain negatively affect one’s mood, but one’s state of mind can exacerbate pain symptoms as well.

It is important to recognize the emotional signs of distress in order to manage those emotions and prevent the onset or worsening of pain. This article will explore the connection between chronic arthritis pain and emotion and how stress, as well as how stress and body pain can take their toll on arthritis sufferers. It is also interesting to look at the effects of the changing seasons on one’s overall mood and levels of pain.

Can Stress Cause Joint Pain?

Stress is a common part of life, but prolonged stress over time can cause rheumatoid arthritis pain to become worse. People with osteoarthritis may also feel their joint pain more prominently when they are experiencing high periods of stress. This is because stress is believed to increase bodily inflammation, which is a known cause of pain. In rheumatoid arthritis patients, for example, more cytokines are released during stressful times, which causes greater inflammation and pain.

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Stress and Body Pain

Individuals who are experiencing pain often feel that they have no control over it. Arthritis pain can be associated with fear and distress that it will continue, worsen, and perhaps even spiral out of control. There are pain signals in the brain that receive messages through many different pathways. People interpret pain in different ways, and individuals’ unique brains learn to deal with pain based on lifestyle habits and personality.

Anxiety Body Aches and Anxiety Joint Pain

In addition to the increased inflammation from stress, people experience anxiety body aches due to muscle tension, which leads to stiffness. This stiffness makes the joints work harder, and this leads to additional discomfort.

Also, many people change their physical movements when experiencing anxiety, such as the way they sit and rest their legs. These altered movements can create anxiety joint paint that lasts throughout the day.

Anxiety and depression play a role in immune system functioning, and a weakened immune system is less capable of enduring chronic arthritis pain. Anxiety joint pain can be very complex and difficult to treat in patients with ongoing physical and emotional issues.

Finding Physical and Emotional Relief

Since negative emotions have the power to trigger chronic arthritis pain, individuals with arthritis are advised to make the most of the warm and sunny summer months. With more opportunities for relaxation, outdoor recreation, and enjoying the nice weather, this is a beneficial time of year for arthritis sufferers.

As individuals become more active in the summer, topical arthritis creams, like JointFlex, can help reduce pain and promote comfortable movements. Arthritis sufferers should speak with their doctors to discuss how much exercise is recommended on a daily basis to keep pain at bay and prevent it from coming back or worsening.

Emotional interventions, such as behavioral therapy, can help individuals manage their stress, and therefore manage pain by default. Other non-drug treatments, including mindfulness practices like tai chi and yoga, have proven to be very effective in helping patients change their perception of chronic pain and cope with the symptoms they feel on a regular basis.

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The Connection Between Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Both lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are autoimmune disorders in which the body’s immune system attacks its own cells and causes pain and inflammation.1,2,3 These conditions are sometimes confused with one another because the symptoms can be somewhat similar.

Lupus can affect nearly any organ system, while RA is considered to be a condition of the joints.2,3 But many people have overlaps in symptoms, which means that specialized tests are needed to diagnose the precise condition causing them.

Here is some information about the similarities and differences between lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and how to develop an effective treatment plan for each condition.

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Symptoms of Lupus

The autoimmune disease of lupus attacks the joints and many internal other organs too, such as the heart and lungs.3 A common sign of lupus is a rash on the face and elsewhere on the body. These rashes tend to worsen with sun exposure. Other possible symptoms of lupus include joint pain, hair loss, mouth sores, shortness of breath, and blood in the urine. Muscle weakness, bodily inflammation, and seizures may also occur in lupus patients.4

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The most common symptom of RA is stiffness in the joints in the morning.3,5 The most common joints affected by this condition are the hands and feet, but other joints are frequently affected as well. People with RA often develop anemia and experience fatigue as a result.3,6 People with RA may also experience inflammation around the heart and in the lungs.3

The Impact of Both Conditions on the Joints

Both of these conditions can be challenging to diagnose, especially if the condition is caught early and when symptoms are relatively minor.7,8 Both lupus and RA are painful and cause damage to the joints.2,3 However, the type of arthritis that is most closely associated with lupus typically causes less joint damage than RA.9 People with RA are more likely than those with lupus to require surgery for severe joint damage.

Treatment Plans for Lupus and RA

Something interesting to know about lupus and RA is that there is a genetic connection between the two conditions. People with a STAT4 gene that is mutated are more susceptible to developing both of these conditions. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that people who carry this mutated gene have double the normal risk of developing lupus and a 60 percent heightened the risk of developing RA.10

Therefore, some of the same treatment strategies for one autoimmune condition may work well for the other one as well. It is also possible for an individual to have both lupus and RA at the same time. This is called comorbidity, which is the existence of multiple diseases that are independent of one another.11   Certain treatment plans can help reduce joint pain and organ damage for both conditions and also in the early stages of one disease in which the diagnosis is not yet clear.

Although there is no definitive cure for lupus, it is possible to manage the symptoms by taking medications to control joint pain and inflammation.3 Cortisone shots may help control inflammation as well. Individuals joint pain caused by both lupus and RA can benefit from using topical pain relieving creams, like JointFlex, to deliver onsite treatment where joints hurt the most. There are significant benefits to treating comorbidity conditions like lupus and RA simultaneously to reduce drug interactions and potential side effects.

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1. Autoimmune disease list. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
2. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 19, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra.
3. Nevares, A. M. & Larner, R. (2018 April). Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/autoimmune-disorders-of-connective-tissue/systemic-lupus-erythematosus-sle.
4. How lupus affects the nervous system. The National Resource Center on Lupus. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
5. Scott, J. T. (1960). Morning Stiffness in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, 19, 361-368. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from
6. Anemia of inflammation or chronic disease: What is anemia of inflammation? The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
7. Lupus diagnosis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
8. Suresh, E. (2004 September). Diagnosis of early rheumatoid arthritis: what the non-specialist needs to know. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 97, 421-424. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information
9. Quismorico, F. P. How lupus affects the muscles, tendons and joints. The National Resource Center on Lupus. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
10. Remmers, E. F., Plenge, R. M., Lee, A. T., Graham, R. R., Hom, G., Behrens, T. W., & De Bakker, P. I. W. (2007 September). STAT4 and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. New England Journal of Medicine, 357, 977-986. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information
11. Comorbidities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from

A Tutorial for Using Heat and Cold Therapies for Joint Pain

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There is a great deal of confusion among joint pain sufferers about when to use heat and when to use cold therapies to bring relief. Temperature-inspired therapy is very simple, but often one of the most effective ways to alleviate the painful symptoms of joint pain that accompany arthritis.

This article offers a tutorial for when to use heat therapy and when to use cold therapy to address joint pain in various parts of the body.

When and How to Use Heat Therapy

Common forms of heat therapy are heating pads, hot showers, and warm baths.1,2,3 This type of therapy works on joint pain because it soothes tired muscles and stiff joints. Warmth is good for getting the body ready for exercise and getting the joints limber for activity. To warm up aching joints first thing in the morning, consider taking a hot shower.3 Or if joints are aching after long days of activity, soaking in a hot whirlpool can feel very relieving.1,3

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Heating pads are effective if pain is localized in one particular area, as long as the skin is protected with a cloth buffer.2 For joint pain of the hands and feet, it may also help to try a warm paraffin wax4 treatment. Overall, heat treatments are long-term treatments that bring soothing relief when needed.

When and How to Use Cold Therapy

In contrast to heat therapy, cold therapy is best for acute joint pain.2 This is because cold temperatures dull pain by numbing nerve endings. Cold packs can also help to restrict blood vessels and slow down the flow of blood circulation, thereby reducing swelling. That’s why cold packs are typically used after an injury is sustained.

Individuals with joint pain should use cold treatments for no more than 20 minutes at a time to numb acute pain that comes on suddenly. Gel cold packs are sold commercially, but a bag of frozen peas offers a similar cooling effect.

Physicians often recommend cold therapy for people who suffer from gout; however, those with osteoarthritis can benefit from both types of therapy.5 One idea is to alternate between heat therapies and cold therapies throughout the day.6 For example, someone with osteoarthritis may use heat therapy first thing in the morning to warm up the joints and then cold therapy after exercise to reduce swelling that occurs.

Other At-Home Remedies for Joint Pain

The bottom line is that ice is meant for injuries and dulling acute pain, while heat is better for chronic pain and ongoing management. While severe and prolonged joint pain often requires professional medical attention and ongoing monitoring, mild and sporadic pain can sometimes be managed with at-home remedies.

For example, over-the-counter pain relief creams like JointFlex can deliver quick, effective, and highly concentrated pain relievers right to the pain source. Other home remedies that some joint pain sufferers swear by include blackstrap molasses, turmeric, magnesium, fenugreek, and apple cider vinegar.7,8 Massage, acupuncture, and gentle yoga poses and stretches may also help to alleviate pain and promote an active lifestyle without prescription medications or surgery.9,10,11

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1. Use your tub to fight joint pain and stiffness. Arthritis Today Magazine. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
2. Using heat and cold for pain relief. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
3. Warming techniques to relieve rheumatoid arthritis pain. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
4. Millard, J. B. & Harris, R. (1955). Pariffin-wax baths in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 14, 278-282. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
5. Schlesinger, N. (2006 December). Response to application of ice may help differentiate between gouty arthritis and other inflammatory arthritides. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, 12, 275-276. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information
6. Kambach, B. J. (2015 August 21). Applying heat vs. cold to an arthritic joint. Arthritis Health. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
7. Orenstein, B. W. The best foods to add to your diet to fight rheumatoid arthritis. Everyday Health. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from
8. Pundarikakshudu, K, Shah, D. H., Panchal, A. H., & Bhavsar, G. C. (2016 July-August). Anti-inflammatory activity of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn) seed petroleum ether extract. Indian Journal of Pharmacology, 48, 441-444. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information
9. Bernstein, S. Types of massages. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from
10. Foltz-Gray, D. Fight arthritis pain without pills. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from
11. Moonaz, S. Yoga poses for arthritis patients from Johns Hopkins. Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms and Who Is at Risk

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The condition of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, also known as JRA and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, has been diagnosed in at least 300,000 children in the U.S.1,2

There are several different types of this disease, and each one affects children in a different way. There are also medical complications that can occur in JRA patients and cause seemingly unrelated health issues. That’s why it’s important for parents to understand the early warning signs and treatment options available in case their children begin to exhibit symptoms or complain of unexplained pain.

This article will define and discuss juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, including its possible causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options.

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Causes of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

JRA is believed to be caused by a malfunctioning of the immune system; however, the exact cause of that malfunctioning is still unknown.1,3 A child’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues, which leads to this condition. There is a genetic component to developing JRA as well.

Symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Symptoms of JRA present themselves anytime up until the age of 16 in children.3,4 It is common for children with JRA to feel similar symptoms as adults who have rheumatoid arthritis. These symptoms include joint pain that persists, as well as joints that are red, swollen, and warm. It is also possible for a child with JRA to experience fevers, stiffness, rashes or limping

Types of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

If a child’s JRA symptoms last for longer than six weeks, the condition is said to be chronic.2,3 Oligoarticular JRA is a form of the disease that affects no more than five joints that are small, such as the joints of the wrists. This is a very common form or JRA and can linger on into adulthood with continuing symptoms.

Another type of JRA is called polyarticular JRA because it affects more than five joints, including larger joints and joints spread throughout the body. Swollen lymph nodes and spleens are also possible with this form of the disease.

A third variation of JRA is called systemic onset JRA, which is the least common of the three. It is marked by fevers and persistent skin rashes; however, the actual joint swelling may not present itself for several years. Pediatricians take a close look at blood tests to consider elevated white blood cells and the possibility of anemia when diagnosing this condition.

Caring for a Child with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

It can be very concerning to have a child with JRA and a challenge for the entire family. One of the major concerns with JRA is stunted growth in children.5 It is common for children with this condition to be shorter in height than their peers, and in rare cases, organ damage may result from prolonged inflammation. Eye problems, including eye pain, light sensitivity, and reduced vision, may also be a complication of JRA.

It is very important to treat JRA early to prevent long-term joint damage that could affect a child for the rest of his or her life. Parents should talk to a pediatrician before using over-the-counter medications like JointFlex on children under 12 years of age. While some children diagnosed with JRA feel symptoms for the rest of their lives, it is also possible for the condition to fade after just a few months.6

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1. Juvenile arthritis. American College of Rheumatology. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
2. What is juvenile idiopathic arthritis? Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
3. Mehta, J. & Pessler, F. (2018 April). Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
4. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Stanford Children’s Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
5. Complications of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. AboutKidsHealth. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
6. Gower, T. All grown up: Juvenile idiopathic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from

Exercises to Fight Carpal Tunnel & Osteoarthritis of the Hands & Wrists

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Repetitive stress in the hands and wrists can lead to painful and debilitating conditions, like carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis.1,2,3 These are progressive conditions that are often caused by frequent motions performed while working in offices, factories, and in outdoor environments.

While some hand and wrist conditions can’t be avoided, ergonomic tools, occasional breaks, and simple stretches can help workers stay comfortable and mobile for years to come.

Here is some information about how repetitive stress can lead to painful arthritic conditions of the hands and wrists and a few exercises that can help delay their onset. Just a few minutes of stretching per day can make a huge difference in one’s performance and long-term health.

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How Repetitive Stress Leads to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The carpal tunnel is a passageway that provides protection for the nerves and tendons at the base of the hand, specifically the median nerve.4 One of the most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome is repetitive motions that expose the wrists to vibration, repeatedly use the fingers, and use extreme ranges of motion.1,8 Examples of common causes include repeated use of vibrating hand tools and typing on a computer keyboard. Farmers who milk cows, assembly line workers in factories, cashiers who use laser scanners, gardeners who pull weeds by hand, and musicians who use bows for stringed instruments are also at risk.

How Repetitive Stress Leads to Osteoarthritis

Similarly, repetitive stress can also lead to the onset of osteoarthritis in some people.5 This condition results when the joint cartilage is weakened, sometimes due to repetitive motions that put excess pressure on weight-bearing joints. While osteoarthritis is often associated with aging and genetics, it can be triggered by repetitive motions in a work environment as well. The joints that are most commonly affected by repetitive motion include the spine, elbows, and knees. Good posture, maintaining a healthy body weight, ergonomic devices, and arthritis pain relief creams6 like JointFlex may help workers stay pain-free and productive.

Hand and Wrist Exercises to Try

Practicing hand and wrist exercises take very little time out of a worker’s day but can be very valuable to preserve long-term functioning.7 One easy exercise to start with begins by making a fist. Then, extend the fingers out until they are straight and touching each other, and repeat ten times with each hand. As a variation, fan out the fingers after making a fist for some repetitions.

It also helps stretch out the wrists and fingers to simply shake them, in a way similar to air drying the hands after washing. For a deeper stretch, individuals can extend one arm out in front with a straight elbow, extended wrist, and fingers pointing down. Use the other hand to apply light pressure to the hand and stretch the wrist. Hold each stretch for about 20 seconds before switching hands and repeating a few times on each side.

Each of these exercises can help prevent or delay the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis caused by repetitive motions. As a general rule, practice one of these hand and wrist exercises for a minute or two each hour to maintain to good flexibility and overall wellness.

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1. Steinberg, D. R. (2018 August). Carpal tunnel syndrome. The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/hand-disorders/carpal-tunnel-syndrome.
2. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Osteoarthritis (OA). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/osteoarthritis-oa.
3. Osteoarthritis of the hands. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from
4. Carpal tunnel syndrome. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from–conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/.
5. Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from
6. Osteoarthritis treatment. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from
7. 5 exercises to improve hand mobility. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from
8. LeBlanc, K. E. & Cestia, W. (2011 April 15). Carpal tunnel Syndrome. American Family Physician, 83, 952-958. Retrieved October 26, 2018