At Benenati Foot & Ankle Care Centers, we treat patients of all ages, and this month we want to focus on a topic of concern to our younger patients and the families that love them. In July, we recognize Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. Most types of Juvenile Arthritis (JA) are autoimmune or autoinflammatory diseases. It means that something goes wrong in the immune system of these patients, and inflammatory chemicals attack healthy cells and tissue that the body normally releases on viruses and germs. Nearly 300,000 children and teens in the U.S. are affected by JA. As in adults, the term arthritis refers to several different disorders, most of which cause joint inflammation, pain, swelling, and tenderness. There are, however, some kinds of JA that have little or no joint discomfort but can affect the skin and internal organs.
The good news about JA is that by attacking it early on and aggressively, remission is possible. Treatment usually consists of a multi-faceted approach, which includes medication, complementary therapies, and modifications of physical activity and eating habits.
Healthy Eating Helps
Everyone knows that a healthy, well-balanced diet helps all children grow and develop properly. For a child with arthritis, a healthy diet, with some specific modifications, can play a key role in the control of inflammation. Another plus? It’s a diet that will benefit the whole family. Below are some do’s and don’ts to help fight inflammation, and improve the immune system.
Do: eat more fruits and veggies! Go for the dark, colorful ones like berries, leafy greens, broccoli, cherries, and tomatoes. They contain the most disease fighters. Rotate your choices and let your children help make selections in the produce section.
Don’t: buy foods with artificial flavors and colors. Your child’s body doesn’t need any more “foreign” substances to process.
Don’t: forget to check labels for hidden sources of sugar. Sugar is known to cause inflammation and while it is fairly easy to spot in cakes, soda, and cookies, you may not be expecting it tomato sauce, bread, yogurt, and breakfast cereal.
Do: become a kitchen magician! Make vegetables disappear in meatloaf and muffin recipes. Disguise them in smoothies and add them to soups and casseroles if your children don’t like eating them on their own.
Do: add more fiber to the plate. Whole-grain bread and pasta, sweet potatoes, and quinoa all provide a good dose of this inflammation fighter.
If your child shows signs of joint discomfort in their feet or ankles, don’t delay in contacting our Macomb (586) 416-3668, St. Clair Shores (586) 779-6140 or Warren (586) 756-3338 office for an appointment. Our podiatrists, Dr. Anthony Benenati, Dr. Neil Shaw, or Dr. Philip M. Watkins, will assess your child’s condition and determine the correct course of treatment.