Pediatric rheumatology is a subspecialty of pediatric medicine that involves the nonsurgical evaluation and treatment of childhood rheumatologic disorders and conditions. It is a rapidly evolving medical specialty, with advancements largely due to new scientific discoveries about the immunology of these disorders. Pediatric rheumatologists efficiently use the tools and tests to diagnose children and adolescents, allowing them to select the most appropriate therapies.
What we treat
Through the Pediatric Rheumatology Division, we diagnose and treat a wide array of rheumatologic diseases, including:
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis—The most common type of arthritis that affects children. It used to be known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, but the name was changed to reflect the differences between childhood arthritis and adult forms of rheumatoid arthritis. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a chronic and long-lasting disease that can affect joints in any part of the body. In this disease, the immune system mistakenly targets the synovium, the tissue that lines the inside of the joint. The synovium responds by making excess fluid (synovial fluid), which leads to swelling, pain and stiffness.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE—An autoimmune disease characterized by acute and chronic inflammation of various tissues of the body. Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that occur when the body's tissues are attacked by its own immune system.
- Lyme arthritis—Associated with Lyme disease and caused by a bacterium transmitted by tick bites. While the skin, central nervous system, heart, eye and other organs may be the target of infection, in most cases of Lyme arthritis, joints are the exclusive target.
- Dermatomyositis—A disease characterized by inflammation of muscles and the skin. It is a type of inflammatory myopathy. Symptoms include difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness, stiffness or soreness, purple or violet colored upper eyelids, purple-red skin rash and shortness of breath. The muscle weakness may appear suddenly or develop slowly over weeks or months.
- Systemic vasculitis—A group of various disorders that are characterized by inflammatory destruction of blood vessels. Both arteries and veins are affected.
- Henoch-Schonlein purpura or HSP—A form of systemic blood vessel inflammation or vasculitis. HSP affects the small vessels called capillaries in the skin and frequently the kidneys. Henoch-Schonlein Purpura results in skin rashes on the legs and buttocks, but may also be seen on the arms, face and trunk. Henoch-Schonlein Purpura is also associated with joint inflammation and cramping pain in the abdomen.
- Fibromyalgia (formally known as fibrositis)—A chronic condition causing pain, stiffness and tenderness within the muscles, tendons and joints. Fibromyalgia can also be characterized by restless sleep, waking up feeling tired, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, depression and possibly some disturbances in bowel function.
What to expect
When coming in for your scheduled evaluation, a pediatric rheumatologist will complete a comprehensive history that includes both the current problem and your child’s past medical history. Your family history is also discussed and your child is then examined with special attention to those systems that may be affected by rheumatologic disease. Once the exam is completed, your pediatric rheumatologist will then carefully discuss the findings and any treatment with you and your child.