Children's Hospital Colorado

Top 10 Most Common Pediatric Rheumatology Diagnoses (S1:E19)

Pediatric primary care providers (PCPs) will encounter children with swollen joints and other rheumatological symptoms in their practices. If providers suspect a pediatric rheumatology diagnosis, a number of tests and screens can help referring providers rule out other conditions.

When a child does have a rheumatology condition, pediatric providers must also think about how that patient will transition out of the pediatric practice and into the rest of their life. Empowering kids to make decisions about their own health is a critical component of the transition.

Listen to our pediatric rheumatology expert discuss rheumatological disease in children

Robert Fuhlbrigge, MD, Chief of Rheumatology at Children's Hospital Colorado, joins us to discuss the 10 most common rheumatology conditions in children and when PCPs should consider a referral to rheumatology. He also shares insightful tips pediatricians can use to help young patients independently manage their condition.

In this episode, our experts discuss:

  • What swollen joints might indicate when assessing a potential case of childhood rheumatological disease
  • Specific factors PCPs should assess when examining a child with joint problems
  • Why laboratory studies taken in the PCP's office can be so helpful when referring a child to rheumatology
  • The role of morning stiffness in the differential diagnosis
  • The difference between mechanical pain and inflammatory disorders
  • The diagnostic benefits of a simple metabolic panel that includes tests for liver and renal function
  • How helpful an elevated antinuclear antibody (ANA) result is when diagnosing a child with systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Outlining the best tests for inflammation, including erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and ANA
  • Why rheumatologists find unexpected fevers in children interesting from a diagnostic perspective
  • Unexplained weakness and what it can mean for a child who may have a rheumatological disease
  • Which rashes indicate that it's necessary to refer to rheumatology
  • The role fatigue plays in common rheumatology conditions in children
  • Why the most important first step for the referring pediatrician is evaluating unexplained inflammation to rule out the most dangerous non-rheumatological conditions such as trauma, infection, malignancy and pericarditis
  • The usefulness of radiology studies, MRI, CT and other imaging modalities
  • Why X-rays aren't very helpful if multiple joints are involved
  • The four spectrums of pharmacotherapy for the treatment of pediatric rheumatology conditions
  • Exciting progress using biologic agents to treat common rheumatology conditions in children
  • The value of combining psychosocial support with economic counseling, nutrition support, physical therapy, occupational therapy and pharmacotherapy for children with a rheumatologic condition
  • The role of genetics and development in pediatric rheumatological diseases

Treating rheumatological disease in children at Children's Colorado

The experts in the Pediatric Rheumatology Program at Children's Colorado specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of children, teens and young adults with autoimmune conditions, including juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Henoch-Schonlein purpura, systemic lupus erythematosus and vasculitis. Our multidisciplinary team includes three pediatric rheumatologists with decades of combined experience.