A pediatric rheumatologist is any doctor that has specialized training concerning the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune conditions affecting children. There are plenty of reasons for referring your child to a rheumatologist, such as joint swelling, persistent unexplained fevers, stiffness, weakness, rashes, and chronic inflammation.
Pediatric Rheumatologists’ Training
- No fewer than 4 years worth of medical school
- Three additional years where they receive general pediatric residency training
- Three years worth of fellowship training which focuses on the child as well as adolescent conditions, alongside illnesses which affect the joints, bones, muscles, and connective tissues present in the body
- Board certification issued by the American Board of Pediatrics, and covering the areas of pediatric rheumatology and pediatrics
Conditions Which Pediatric Rheumatologists Treat
The work of a pediatric rheumatologist includes working with a family physician or a pediatrician in the evaluation and treatment or varied disorders, such as:
- Acute Joint inflammation, or arthritis
- Lupus, plus related conditions, counting Sjogren syndrome, mixed connective tissue disease, and scleroderma.
- Chronic arthritis, together with juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Vasculitis, which is a condition where the blood vessels get inflamed. This covers Henoch-Schonlein purpura, Kawasaki disease, Behcets disease, and antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis
- Dermatomyositis, as well as alternate forms of muscle inflammation
- Eye inflammation
- Autoinflammatory syndromes such as PFAPA, as well as other periodic fever syndromes
What To Expect When Seeing a Pediatric Rheumatologist
The first visit to a rheumatology clinic for children would normally involve going through a history of how your child’s symptoms first appeared and progressed, as well as looking through the family history. The doctor would also check the lab reports and images, after which he or she would do a complete physical exam. Some situations would require many follow-up visits before a diagnosis could be reached. Apart from the history and exam, the doctor may also recommend getting one or more of the following tests.
- Laboratory studies such as blood and urine tests
- Imaging studies such as ultrasound, MRI and X-ray
- Muscle or skin biopsy
- Respiratory function tests
- Joint aspiration, meant to remove fluid from the vicinity of joints like the knee
- Nerve conduction studies
Why Pediatric Rheumatologists Are Important
Children cannot be considered small adults, because they have bodies which are growing, and they have distinctive medical needs. Their concerns are also expressed differently than adults, which means they are often unable to answer medical questions, or even be patient and cooperative. Pediatric rheumatologists know how to get around this barrier, by gaining the child’s confidence and proceeding in the best possible way.