Over the past several sections, you have learned a wide variety of treatment strategies for JIA. You learned about different medications, using relaxation and distraction, and changing any negative thoughts into more positive ones. You also learned about healthy eating and how to maintain a regular exercise program. These strategies are aimed at controlling inflammation, keeping your joints working properly and most importantly, reducing or preventing long-term joint damage. They can also help you to better manage JIA symptoms.
Your role in treatment
You have an important role in making your treatment plan successful. To make the most of your medications, you need to take them regularly and on time. Many people find it difficult to remember to take their medications regularly. In this session, you will learn some tips to help you remember to take your medicine.
It is also important that you get the appropriate help when you need it. If you are experiencing side effects from your medications, or having trouble managing a JIA flare, speak to your rheumatologist. They can help modify your treatment plan.
Below is a list of some of the common concerns young people have mentioned about their JIA:
• Issues at school including taking medications and telling teachers and friends about their JIA
• Physical challenges such as getting around school during a flare and participating in gym
• Remembering to take medications on time
• Issues about body image and self-esteem
• Dealing with the side effects of their medications
If you have concerns like these or any other concerns, speak with someone on your health care team, like the rheumatologist, clinic nurse or social worker. They can help you resolve or manage these issues.
Importance of sticking to your treatment plan
You will be asked to do many things to help control JIA symptoms. These may include taking medications, doing exercises or wearing splints to protect your joints. These treatments often have to be done every day over a long period of time. This is not easy as you may not see the benefits of these treatments right away, and the treatments take time and effort.
The following tips will help you to consistently follow the treatments that your doctor or health-care provider has prescribed.
• Make sure your doctor or health-cacare provider explains what you are supposed to do to control your joint pain and inflammation. Also ask them to tell you how the treatments will help you. Ask for a written plan, or you can develop a system of your own. You can make a journal or binder with all of your medical information and write down what your doctor says while at your appointment. Ask questions if you have any concerns about your treatment plan or if you do not understand what the doctor or nurse is telling you.
• Ask your doctor or health care provider how to avoid negative side effects of treatments, such as an upset stomach with some JIA medications or weight gain with steroid medications. If treatments cause you problems, ask your doctor about other options.
• Work with your doctor or healthc care provider on keeping your treatment plan as simple as possible. One way to do this might be to have medications that need to be taken once or twice a day rather than several times a day.
• Use a reminder system to help you remember to take your treatments. This might involve putting your medications into a pill box organiser at the start of each week. Then put the box in a place that will help you remember to take your medications. A handy location might be on the kitchen counter or next to your toothbrush. If you have a watch with an alarm, you can also use that to remind you when to take your medications, especially if you take them more than once a day.
• Ask your parents or a close friend to encourage you to follow your treatments. Support from others will help you to stay on track. If you find it hard to exercise on a regular basis, see if you can find a few friends to do something with at a local gym or recreation centre.
• Reward yourself for taking your treatments. Try to do something you enjoy after taking medications or exercising.
• Ask your parents, doctor or health-care provider how you can overcome barriers to following your treatments. Ask yourself, “What gets in the way of me following my treatments and how can I solve this problem?”
• If you think your treatments are not helping, talk to your doctor or health care provider. They can help you with your concerns and decisions about your treatment.
Do everything you can to take your medications regularly and follow your other therapies. It may reduce the number of tests and other treatments you would otherwise have to undergo.