HOUSTON Many people may be familiar with juvenile diabetes, but not so many are aware of juvenile arthritis. It s a lesser- known ailment with just as big of an impact.

Three hundred thousand children nationwide suffer with the adult-like disease, but there are ways to find relief with an adult treatment.

Once diagnosed, young arthritis patients must get used to a regimen of popping pills daily, including chemotherapy drugs. But more patients and their parents are finding a mere massage can bring great comfort to kids with juvenile arthritis.

Kierra, 7, knows how to make a splash in her parents pool. If there s one thing she loves doing, it is swimming; mostly because it makes her feel good.

We ve incorporated a lot of swimming and diet changes, says Kierra s stepmother, Heather Puksta.

The family tries anything to keep Kierra s juvenile arthritis at bay. She was diagnosed when she was just 3 years old with the auto-immune disorder.

We were absolutely dumbfounded. We didn t know what juvenile arthritis was, or rheumatoid arthritis for that matter, her stepmother said. The arthritis flares itself, when she has it, it s typically in her knee. That seems to be the one that s the most affected that will then get enlarged, swollen, and warm to the touch. We ll see her wakeup in the morning and be stiff or limp.

What helps ease the discomfort and pain, more than the many pills or weekly shot she has to take, is a massage. The Arthritis Foundation boasts its benefits.

It s exercising the joints, reducing the inflammation, improving the quality of life and it s all from proper exercise and massage, says Richard Jennings, the regional vice president of the Arthritis Foundation of South Texas.

Kierra gets two weeks of relief from her once-monthly session.

Our massage therapist was really tuned in right off the bat. One of her knees had quite a bit of inflammation. So that s (massage) been a nice help to us, her stepmother said. We haven t seen any stiffness at all.

It s a costly therapy because not all insurance policies cover the cost, but it s one well worth the expense.

I feel great, Kierra said.

Her massage therapist truly has a healing hand.

You can help by taking part in Healing Hands for Arthritis Day on September 19. For every massage and facial booked at Massage Envy, $10 will be donated to the Arthritis Foundation. Click here for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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