Add as bookmark

Juvenile Chronic Arthritis

by Mary Martin(more info)

listed in arthritis, originally published in issue 68 - September 2001

Every day in the UK one in seven of the population suffers the painful effects of arthritis. Of the eight million, one million of these are under 46 and 14,500 are children. Whilst an allopathic approach offers no satisfactory cure, it is surprising what reflexology can achieve, despite invasive treatment.

A wonderful advantage is that treatment is carried out on parts of the body (feet/hands) distant from areas of imbalance. This is particularly valuable in cases of degenerative diseases such as arthritis and also injury, where working directly on painful areas could be counterproductive.

Case Study – Mira


At eighteen months old Mira became affected by juvenile chronic arthritis, the childhood form of rheumatoid arthritis, formerly known as Still's disease.

Initially her right knee was badly affected, into which steroids were injected, when she was two years old. When the effects wore off, the arthritis spread to the left knee and both ankle joints. More steroids were injected and subsequently all her joints became arthritic. At four years of age she was given steroids intravenously over a period of a week, with no positive results. Despite being pressurized, her mother refused any more steroid treatment, although Mira does have regular check-ups with a consultant and an eye specialist. Painkillers have helped her to cope.

Presenting Symptoms

I saw Mira just before her eighth birthday. Both knees and ankle joints were fused, making it impossible for her to stand fully erect or to bend. This placed extra strain on her spine, neck and shoulders. She slept badly because of pain, and was so stiff on waking that she had difficulty in walking at all. Mira had iritis in her right eye, where there was virtually no sight. There was also pain, inflammation and photophobia, for which she received no treatment. She also had a chronic bowel problem that had affected her daily for two-and-a-half years. Due to the disease she was small for her age. Her mother gave her a suitable diet that avoided any food intolerances, although Mira's appetite was poor. She looked very debilitated.


Her mother carried her to my room for her first treatment. I focused on boosting her general health by reducing inflammation and alleviating her bowel disorder. A complete treatment was given with further attention to the reflexes corresponding to her digestive system, pituitary, hypothalamus, adrenals and eyes. The relaxing effects could reduce muscular tension, lessen pain and improve her sleep pattern.

She walked from the car for her second treatment. Her bowel function had normalized the day following her first session. She experienced less pain and had slept without painkillers for a week. By the fourth treatment there was further reduction in pain, and she was sleeping throughout the night. Her eye was less inflamed and less painful. She stood straighter and looked livelier and less debilitated. Her circulation had improved and she was more energized.

During two months of weekly treatments this progress was maintained. In addition, she had gained some weight and was more active.

She continued with fortnightly treatments and within another two months she could sit on the floor unaided. She could also pick up books from the floor, activities she could not achieve previously. Her appetite improved and she appeared to grow taller each time I saw her.

Mira's Future

I write this at the end of the cold, wet, winter of 2000 which could have affected Mira's condition very badly, but has been the least problematical of any. She is free of pain and sleeps soundly. Her bowels have functioned normally since her first treatment. There is more flexibility in her fingers and toes. Her ankle joints are a little looser and her knees a little straighter. She stands more erect. She has no stiffness on waking and can now manage the stairs at home and at school. The inflammation and pain in her right eye have gone, and her eye specialist says that the condition has stabilized. Her consultant, aware that she has reflexology, acknowledges these improvements.

Mira's fused joints remain a problem that creates additional strain on her body because of altered posture. Monthly treatments will continue to lessen this effect and maintain the benefits already provoked by reflexology. The human body is constantly changing and renewing. Mira is only eight years old and already her future is looking brighter.

Health Creation

Reflexology does not usually conflict with allopathic medicine, although a greater awareness of its achievements is needed. In a truly integrated health-care system more people could receive help before their condition becomes chronic. Greater effort is needed in bringing this about, for the sake of children like Mira. Parents are required by law to seek medical attention for their sick children.

During eighteen years in practice I am constantly reminded of the significance of the holistic perspective, where disorder is seen as an expression of the body trying to heal itself. Whilst an effective practical technique is invaluable in facilitating the healing process, a positive therapeutic relationship plays a vital role in health creation.

The human dimension lies at the core of complementary medicine. Therapists have a role as educators in respect of guiding patients towards healthier lifestyles. A positive therapeutic relationship is highly valued by patients. It supports them in making meaningful changes to their lives, and in coming to terms with situations they cannot change. This gives patients the self-empowerment to take greater control over their future health and well-being.


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About Mary Martin

A qualified teacher, Mary Martin established her School of Reflexology in 1987. She founded the Association of Reflexologists in 1984 and is an Honorary Life Member. Previously she practised as a Gerson therapist. Mary belongs to a network of therapists attached to the cancer centre at Mount Vernon Hospital. She has had a busy practice in Ruislip since 1983. She may be contacted on Tel: 01895 635621;

top of the page