What are some signs that a child may have arthritis?
Known clinical findings link juvenile arthritis with morning stiffness such as a child waking up with joint stiffness that improves with activity. Persistent joint swelling that lasts for at least 6 weeks is a cause for concern. Dr. Linda Ray says she asks her patients if they "walk like a zombie" in the mornings.
“I have even had parents bring in videos of their children walking with a limp that is not present by the time they are evaluated in clinic,” says Ray.
Are there weather or recreational events specific to this time of the year that could trigger a flare-up?
Children with arthritis prefer heat so colder weather may make their joints hurt more. Cold weather does not cause increased inflammation, but because they prefer warmth, there may be increased joint pain with colder temperatures.
“We encourage children with arthritis to be active, and advise that some sports may be too intense. We try to assess just what is involved with the child’s preferred activity,” says Lydia Walters, NP. “Swimming is an excellent activity because there is no significant weight bearing and core strength is developed.”
When should a pediatric rheumatologist become involved in the course of treatment for a rheumatic disorder?
Primary pediatricians can diagnose and treat some rheumatic disorders; however the best outcomes are initiated through early diagnosis and treatment. When children are seen in our clinics we gather various data to arrive at a diagnosis. If a child has a rheumatic disorder or some other autoimmune diseases, the symptoms will not totally resolve without treatment - and may worsen with time.
“However, important clues for diagnosis can show up in the physical exam and blood work that we order,” says Dr. Nina Washington.
We welcome questions and referrals. Please call us if you have any concerns; we would love to help you and your patients. To reach Children's dedicated referral line, call (855) 984-5437.