Meet Your Child’s Health Care Team

Learn about the kinds of health care professionals who help treat juvenile arthritis.

As a parent of a child with arthritis, you are no doubt familiar with your child’s doctor’s office. But there are many more health care professionals who can provide ongoing care and support for your child. Understanding their roles can help ensure that your child is getting the best, most well-rounded care possible. Here's a list of potential players who can help treat your child: 

Pediatrician

Physician with additional, specialized training in diagnosing, preventing or treating diseases in children and adolescents. Can include both medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy.

Pediatric rheumatologist: 

Physician who has additional, specialized training in diagnosing and treating rheumatic diseases in children or adolescents. Your pediatrician may initially diagnose your child’s juvenile arthritis, then refer her to a pediatric rheumatologist for ongoing care.

Nurse

Health care professional with a specialized degree in nursing (often a registered nurse) who assists or collaborates with physicians in either an office or hospital setting. Nurses may conduct an initial consultation, conduct tests like urinalysis or taking temperature, or administer injections or infusions, for example.

Nurse practitioner

Nurse with additional, graduate-level education in advanced nursing. Many nurse practitioners specialize in an area of medicine, such as rheumatology. Nurse practitioners may be primary-care providers, diagnose illnesses and prescribe medications.

Physician assistant

Health care professional who is licensed to practice medicine under a physician’s supervision. Physician assistants may specialize in an area of medicine, such as rheumatology. Physician assistants may prescribe medications, assist in surgeries and diagnose and treat many illnesses.

Physical therapist

Health care professional trained in using exercises to treat physical conditions like arthritis.

Occupational therapist

Health care professional trained in teaching patients adaptive techniques to reduce joint strain who may also design or prescribe splints or similar devices.

Psychologist

Health care professional with training in psychology who may provide counseling or therapy to children with JA. Some psychologists specialize only in treating children and teens, rather than adults, and may be called child psychologists.

Psychiatrist

Physician who has additional, specialized training in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. A psychiatrist, unlike a psychologist, is licensed to order medical tests such as brain scans, or to prescribe drugs to treat mental conditions, including depression or anxiety.

Ophthalmologist

Physician with additional, specialized training in diagnosing, preventing and treating eye diseases. Children with JA need regular eye exams to detect signs of inflammatory eye conditions like uveitis.

Dermatologist

Physician with additional, specialized training in diagnosing, preventing and treating skin diseases. Children with JA may need to see a dermatologist if they develop rashes or painful skin conditions like psoriatic arthritis.

Orthopaedic surgeon

Physician with additional, specialized training in surgical treatment of the musculoskeletal system, including bones and joints.

Podiatrist

Physician with training in diagnosing, preventing and treating foot diseases or pain, including prescribing medicines and performing foot surgeries.

Social worker

Licensed professional who helps children and parents capitalize on their own resources or finding social services available to make life easier with juvenile arthritis.

Dietitian

Health care professional with specialized training in the use of diet and food to promote good health. Dietitians may guide children with JA in developing a healthy diet, or consult with parents if children are either overweight or underweight.

Other

Depending on how your child’s rheumatic disease affects her, other specialists on your child’s health care team may include physicians like nephrologists, who treat kidney diseases; gastroenterologists, who treat diseases of the digestive system; pulmonologists, who treat lung diseases, and many more.
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