Rheumatology - What to expect

Relieving pain, restoring function

At your child’s first appointment, we obtain a detailed medical history and conduct a thorough physical exam. We’ll carefully investigate the duration and severity of your child’s symptoms. We assess daily activities and well-being, and may order advanced imaging studies and lab tests.

Children’s treats kids and teens in both inpatient and outpatient settings. We use the most effective, advanced medications to control inflammation and manage overactive immune system responses. Some of the treatment agents used are:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications — Corticosteroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) — These medications reduce immediate pain and swelling and minimize joint damage and long-term disability. Methotrexate is one example of a DMARD.
  • Biologic medications — These medications work by targeting or inhibiting specific immune system components that are contributing to an overactive immune response. Examples include etanercept and infliximab.
  • Immune suppressing medications —  Medications such as mycophenolate or cylophosphamide are needed to block the immune system in a general way to prevent severe damage or disability from an over active immune response.

Administering medications

Many of these medications are given orally, but some are given by under-the-skin injection (subcutaneously) or by infusion through an intravenous catheter. Because infusions can take one hour to many hours to complete, Children’s rheumatology works to accommodate families by arranging for infusions at either the Children’s -–St. Paul or Children’s -–Minneapolis, or if outside the metro area at your local hospital if possible.

Children’s rheumatology has a nurse practitioner and nurse-managed program dedicated to educating families about injections and infusions, monitoring medications and making the medication experience as easy as possible. Furthermore, the C.H. Robinson Infusion Center at Children’s provides more than 5,000 infusions per year to children and teens and has received national recognition for aggressively managing pain and side effects associated with procedures and treatments.

Last but not least, our rheumatology program uses proven procedures such as arthrocentesis to diagnose and treat arthritis. During this procedure, a needle is used to withdraw a small sample of joint fluid from a joint. This helps identify the cause of inflammation or place medication inside of a joint.


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