In this section
The range of pediatric rheumatic diseases facing children is large, affecting children from birth to adulthood. Some are acute issues that need immediate attention and then go away. Others are chronic conditions that require lifelong care from a dedicated team.
Children's Wisconsin is uniquely equipped to diagnose and treat all major forms of pediatric rheumatic disease, including:
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
About juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) – formerly known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) – is the most common type of arthritis in children younger than 16 years old. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints, causing pain, stiffness and joint swelling. Although we are not entirely sure yet what causes JIA, research suggests it is an autoimmune condition – meaning your child’s immune system has started attacking his or her healthy cells and tissues.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis care at Children’s
Treatment of JIA centers on the following basic goals: to maintain function, prevent progression, and reduce disease activity. Our treatment plan is designed especially for your child’s needs and might include medication, physical/occupational therapy, healthy dietary patterns and education for you and your child.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus)
About systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) – often referred to as lupus – is an autoimmune disorder that involves inflammation of the joints, connective tissues and organs, especially the kidneys and other solid organs. Seen primarily in young women, SLE can affect children very differently, with effects marked by periods of flare-up and remission.
Systemic lupus erythematosus care at Children’s
At Children’s, our team creates a treatment plan to address the unique needs of your child. Our suggestions may include medicine like steroids to control inflammation and medications to suppress your child’s immune system.
Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDMS) involves muscle injury due to inflammation. You may also observe changes in your child’s skin around the eyelids and over the knuckles and finger joints. The child may have muscle weakness.
JDMS care at Children’s
While there is currently no cure for JDMS, our goal at Children’s is to work toward your child’s remission. Our comprehensive approach depends on your child’s needs, and may include medication, physical and occupational therapy.
About pediatric vasculitis
Vasculitis is a term that refers to a number of different rheumatic conditions, all of which involve inflammation and/or damage to the blood vessels. Vasculitis can be acute and self limiting or chronic and involve many organs. The most common form of vasculitis in children is Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP) which affects blood vessels in the skin, intestines and often the kidneys. The second most common type of pediatric vasculitis is Kawasaki disease which affects the arteries. While we don’t yet know what causes vasculitis, research suggests that autoimmune disease and infections agents may be involved.
Pediatric vasculitis care at Children’s
Our goal is to diagnose your child’s vasculitis early and partner with you to achieve remission. For some milder forms of vasculitis, your child may only need time, rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. If your child’s condition is more severe or complicated, we may recommend prescription oral medications, and/or IV medications.
Some pediatric rheumatoid conditions affect your child’s eyesight, most commonly in the form of uveitis. Uveitis – or iritis, as it is sometimes called, is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, known as the uvea. It is a serious condition and if left untreated, can lead to blindness.
Uveitis/iritis care at Children’s
Depending on the severity of your child’s uveitis, your ophthalmologist may recommend the use of topical steroids. However, if topical steroids are not enough you may see a rheumatologist for additional systemic medications. Our team works with you and your ophthalmologist to determine the best treatment for your child.
Scleroderma is a skin disease marked by hardening patches on your child’s skin. He or she may also have stiff hands or feel especially sensitive to cold and heat in his or her hands and feet. In most children, scleroderma is localized, meaning it only affects the skin. This form is called localized scleroderma or morphea. In very rare instances, children can develop systemic scleroderma, which affects skin elasticity, internal organs and joint movement.
Scleroderma care at Children’s
As scleroderma’s effects can vary widely, we design a treatment approach at Children’s that is specific to your child’s needs. We focus on managing symptoms and bringing you and your child relief. Our approach may include medication, therapy and treating the skin condition locally.
Musculoskeletal complaints & extremities pain
About musculoskeletal complaints & extremities pain
Many children experience pain in their bones, muscles and joints. While it rarely indicates an underlying condition, it can be unpleasant and require attention to cope with your child’s discomfort. In rarer cases, these symptoms can be indicators of underlying inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
Musculoskeletal & extremities pain care at Children’s
Our first course of action is to obtain a complete history, and physical exam to eliminate potential underlying causes for your child’s symptoms. Then we treat the symptoms to maintain function and alleviate discomfort. Depending upon your child’s needs this may involve occupational therapy or physical therapy or a referral to our pain management center.
Periodic fever & autoinflammatory syndromes
About periodic fever & autoinflammatory syndromes
Recurrent fevers are very common in childhood, and are not related to a genetic cause and often resolve. Periodic fevers and autoinflammatory syndromes are rare genetic disorders that results in recurring episodes of inflammation.
As the name suggests, periodic fever is a recurring inflammatory disease. The flare-ups are often accompanied by rashes, joint swelling, mouth sores, muscle pain and abdominal pain. Each child’s symptoms vary. Periodic fever tends to run in families and at times can be diagnosed through genetic testing.
Periodic fever and autoinflammatory disease care at Children’s
The treatment goal for periodic fever is to control the symptoms. The treatment depends on the specific disease and on your child’s symptoms this may involve medication.
Infection-related reactive arthritis
About infection-related reactive arthritis
Infection-related arthritis is transient arthritis that can occur after bacterial or viral infections. Arthritis is often treated with non-steroidal antiinflammatory (NSAID) medications.
Infection-related reactive arthritis is an umbrella term that also includes rheumatic fever, Lyme arthritis and poststreptococcal reactive arthritis. Children with infection-related arthritis often complain of joint pain. Other symptoms include rashes and fever. Children with strep throat can develop rheumatic fever if not treated promptly with antibiotics. Those infected by ticks can develop Lyme disease. Children with certain kinds of infections related to the gastrointestinal track may experience reactive arthritis.
Infection-related reactive arthritis care at Children’s
Treatment depends on the type of infection your child has, its severity and its origin. Children whose symptoms are traced to bacteria are treated with antibiotics. There is no treatment for viral infections, so rest and fluids are recommended.
About Behçet’s disease
Behçet’s disease is an autoimmune disorder related to inflammation in the blood vessels. It is characterized by mouth sores, genital sores, inflammation in certain parts of the eye (uveitis) and arthritis. In extreme cases, the symptoms include inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, and inflammation of the digestive system.
Behçet’s disease care at Children’s
The most common treatments for Behçet’s disease include corticosteroids, to reduce pain and inflammation, and immunosuppressive drugs, to help keep the body from attacking itself.