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Treatment for Chronic Rheumatic and Autoimmune Disorders in Children and Adolescents

At the Children’s Hospital New Orleans, our board-certified pediatric rheumatologists provide consultation, treatment, diagnosis, and care facilities for young people with joint disorders. The program is run in collaboration with the Pediatric Rheumatology Collaborative Study Group (PRCSG), a national network of pediatric rheumatology clinicians and researchers created to foster, facilitate and conduct high-quality clinical research in the field of pediatric rheumatology. Each patient we see is treated by a multidisciplinary team including a nurse coordinator, physical therapists, occupational therapists, registered dietitians, and social workers.

What are rheumatic and autoimmune disorders?

Some of the most common reasons a primary care doctor refers young patients to a pediatric rheumatologist include evidence of joint swelling and stiffness, ongoing and unexplained fevers, rashes, fatigue, and chronic inflammation. Pediatric rheumatologists have specialized training to diagnose and treat autoimmune disorders in youngsters.

Like many chronic illnesses, rheumatic and autoimmune conditions are subject to misdiagnosis. This is particularly true in children, where the complex array of chronic rheumatic diseases fluctuate in severity and make them more difficult to detect, which in turn can cause life-threatening complications. Children may also experience significant, even permanent problems that can affect different aspects of their growth, development, and overall quality of life. Because of these reasons, early diagnosis is essential for proper management and to prevent long-term complications.

Conditions our team treats

Rheumatic and autoimmune conditions often involve multiple organ systems and a patient who seeks medical treatment must have a doctor with a broad familiarity with internal medicine. Our child-friendly, family-focused multidisciplinary treatment teams take an individualized approach to each patient’s care and utilize the most up-to-date technology to ensure they receive the highest-quality care.

Management expertise includes, but is not limited to:

  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Juvenile dermatomyositis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Mixed connective tissue disease
  • Childhood vasculitis
  • Musculoskeletal pain syndromes including joint hypermobility, fibromyalgia, growing pains, complex regional pain syndrome
  • Periodic fever syndromes
  • Sarcoidosis

What to expect when your child sees a pediatric rheumatologist

During your child’s first visit with a pediatric rheumatologist, you will have the opportunity to discuss your child’s symptoms and your family’s medical history. They will conduct a complete physical exam, and review any related lab work or imaging studies. If a diagnosis cannot be made at this first appointment, a follow-up visit may be scheduled to review additional tests. Examples of tests your child’s doctor may recommend include additional imaging scans, lab tests, respiratory function tests, biopsies, nerve conduction studies, or joint aspiration.

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