It's important to know that whilst it can be scary to consider that your child may have to take medication for many years, not taking the drugs recommended by the health professionals can have long-term consequences. Unfortunately, the evidence shows that not taking the recommended medication can lead to damaged joints which never recover. Untreated or under-treated JIA in children could result in further health problems.

Your child will be continuously monitored, and side-effects can usually be effectively dealt with in several ways. 

It's a good idea to mention any health supplements or complementary medicine that your child has been taking and any side effects from the prescribed medication. 

"It can take a while to find the right combination of drugs for your child. For many parents this is the hardest and msot challenging time. Each drug has to be given a fair amount of time to work (sometimes months) and it can be incredibly frustrating - I remember thinking that I wasn't sure I trusted the docs anymore as nothing seemed to work, until finally it did! Health professionals will not stop until the disease is under control, so you may have to be patient yet persistent." Quote from a parent of a child with JIA. 

Medication at a glance

Analgesics (also known as painkillers)

Help to control pain. Oral tablets and in liquid form. Example: paracetamol (co-dydramol * co-codamol)

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Ease pain and stiffness by reducing inflammation. Oral tablets and liquid form. Example: Ibuprofen (suitable for all ages) Meloxicam, Naproxen

Corticosteroids, also called steroids

Reduce inflammation and ease pain. Steroids are usually injected directly into the joint. Example: Prednisolone (often given by injection directly into affected joints) or by tablets

Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)

Standard DMARDs - Usually the first DMARD prescribed on diagnosis. These reduce the immune system 'attack'. They take time to work (weeks, even months). They provide a way of controlling the disease over the long-term depending on the type of JIA. Example: Methotrexate (tablets, liquid form or sub-cutaneous injection), Sulfasalazine (tablet only - usually to older children), Hydroxychloroquine (tablet only - usually only to older children)

Infrequent DMARD

Only used occasionally and in tablet form. Example: Leflunomide

Biologic Therapies

These drugs work by targeting particular chemicals or cells in the body's immune system. They may be prescribed together with a standard DMARD. Example: Etanercept (Sub-cutaneous injection), Adalimumab (sub-cutaneous injection), Infliximab, Tocilizumab (intravenous infusion), Abatacept (intravenous infusion), Anakinra, Canakinumab (rarely used)

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