Rheumatologists diagnose and treat autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that affect muscles, joints and connective tissues. These conditions in children are called by a broad term known as pediatric rheumatic diseases. A well-known pediatric rheumatic disease is juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, pediatric rheumatic diseases affect nearly 300,000 children in the United States. While many of these conditions also affect adults, special care is needed to treat children with these diseases. A pediatric rheumatologist has the training and experience to diagnose and care for these conditions in children.
The rheumatology specialists with Norton Children’s are the only board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric rheumatologists available to care for children with rheumatic diseases in Louisville and Southern Indiana.
What conditions do pediatric rheumatologists treat?
Pediatric rheumatologists evaluate, diagnose and treat conditions such as:
- Autoimmune disorders, including juvenile idiopathic arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, post-infectious arthritis, chronic vasculitis
- Inflammatory disorders of the muscle, eye or other organs
- Unexplained chronic musculoskeletal pain, weakness, poor appetite, fatigue, and/or loss of function or skills
- Unexplained symptoms such as a fever that won’t go away, anemia, rash, weight loss or joint swelling
When should a child see a pediatric rheumatologist?
Each pediatric rheumatic disease has its own set of signs and symptoms. The most crucial step in getting care for a rheumatic condition is a correct diagnosis. If your child shows signs of a pediatric rheumatic disease, talk to your pediatrician about whether seeing a rheumatologist is right for your child.
Symptoms and concerns that may indicate the need to see a rheumatologist include:
Norton Children’s rheumatology services
Norton Children’s has the experience to provide comprehensive care for the full spectrum of pediatric rheumatic diseases.
- Pain or weakness in the muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones. Your child may not be able to describe the pain or may be used to the constant presence of pain.
- Swelling and stiffness. Stiffness and pain may come and go, but most often these symptoms do not go away. Joint pain, swelling and stiffness usually are worse in the morning or after being inactive.
- Protecting or guarding a joint. Your child may limp or avoid using a certain joint. He or she may not be able to use the full range of motion in a joint.
- Your child may avoid activities he or she enjoys because of feeling tired or sore.
- Skin rashes
- Suspected connective tissue disorder
- Suspected autoimmune disorder (where the immune system attacks healthy cells), such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatic diseases can affect each child differently. A child can experience many symptoms or just a few. Some children experience symptoms for several months, while others may have symptoms only for a few days.