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Rheumatology clinic

Rheumatology clinic

Shriners Children's Twin Cities provides a rheumatology clinic to address the needs of children with conditions affecting their joints or soft tissues such as autoimmune diseases and connective tissue disorders. The most commonly seen condition in the rheumatology clinic is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

In addition to treating JIA, the rheumatology clinic at Shriners Children's Twin Cities also evaluates and treats patients with:

  • Dermatomyositis
  • Lupus
  • Lyme disease
  • Mixed connective tissue disease
  • Periodic fever syndrome
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Scleroderma
  • Spondyloarthropathy
  • Vasculitis

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is an autoimmune disease that refers to chronic joint, swelling or stiffness in a child under 16 that lasts at least six weeks with no other cause. An early diagnosis and aggressive treatment of JIA is key to preventing or slowing joint damage and preserving joint function and mobility. The best treatment for JIA is an individualized approach. At Shriners Children's Twin Cities, we have on-site access to orthopaedics, pediatric rheumatology, nursing, physical and occupational therapy, care management and Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services – Midwest, LLC, making it easier to provide the range of care needed.

Children can be diagnosed with arthritis from a very early age through history and physical, directed laboratory testing and imaging. Our overall goal is to restore function and allow each child to reach his or her full potential. Treatment may include medical management, physical and occupational therapy. Surgery may be necessary for very severe cases only.

Types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis

There are many categories of JIA. However, the three most common types are oligoarticular, polyarticular and systemic.

  • Oligoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in children, accounting for around 40–60 percent of all JIA cases. Oligoarticular arthritis affects four or fewer joints and typically is found in the large joints such as knees, ankles, wrists or elbows. Hips and shoulders are rarely affected. It affects more girls than boys and Caucasians more than any other race. It usually begins before a child is four years of age. Oligoarticular arthritis can be associated with an eye disease called uveitis, so children with this form of JIA should have regular eye exams.
  • Polyarthritis is the second most common type of arthritis in children, accounting for around 20–30 percent of all JIA cases. Polyarthritis affects many joints, typically five or more. It equally involves small and large joints, often affecting weight-bearing joints such as knees, neck, jaw and ankles and feet. It tends to affect more girls than boys.
  • Systemic arthritis is also known as Still’s disease. Systemic arthritis is the least common of the top three subtypes of JIA and accounts for around 10 precent of all cases. It can affect only a few or many different joints, as well as other parts of the body. It is often a more severe form of JIA because of affecting many parts of the body, rather than just the joints. There is commonly a spiking fever that rapidly rises and falls throughout the day, as well as a discreet, non-itchy rash of pale pink or red spots on the trunk or limbs. Swollen lymph glands are common and the liver and spleen may become larger than normal. Systemic arthritis rarely causes eye inflammation. Boys and girls are equally affected by systemic arthritis.

Signs of JIA

Joint inflammation is a common sign or symptom of arthritis. Although symptoms of JIA vary depending on type and level of severity, warning signs from your child can include:

  • Stiffness after sleeping
  • Limping
  • Complaints of pain
  • Chronic fever, rash, or swollen glands
  • Refusing to use an arm or leg
  • Fatigue and noticeably reduced energy level

As with other forms of arthritis, symptoms of JIA can at times get worse (during flare-ups) or disappear (during remission). Every child experiences JIA differently. Some children might have only one or two flare-ups in their entire lives. Others might experience many flare-ups, or even have permanent symptoms.

Who your child may see in this clinic:

Thomas G. Mason, M.D., pediatric rheumatologist

To schedule an appointment, call new patient intake at 612-596-6105.