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What does a Pediatric Rheumatologist do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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A pediatric rheumatologist provides treatment to children with musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis, back pain, muscle strains, and other conditions. These medical professionals are among the most highly trained in the world, thanks to the complexity of their specialty, and they typically are board certified in pediatrics and rheumatology. Most pediatric rheumatologists work in urban areas where there is an ample supply of patients.

To become a pediatric rheumatologist, it is necessary to attend medical school and then complete a residency in pediatrics, which usually lasts three years. After the pediatrics residency, the doctor completes a three year fellowship in rheumatology, working specifically with child and juvenile patients. At the end of his or her training, the doctor can pursue board certification in the specialty.

Children usually see a pediatric rheumatologist when they are referred by another medical practitioner who feels that the child would be best served by a rheumatologist. The doctor talks with the patient and his or her parents about what brings the patient into the office, and uses a variety of diagnostic techniques to learn more about the child's condition and what might be causing it. Once a diagnosis has been determined, the pediatric rheumatologist can recommend some treatment options.

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Many of the conditions treated by pediatric rheumatologists involve the immune system, and these medical professionals often work with immune conditions as a result. They are interested in a wide variety of medical problems, including joint pain, vasculitis, unexplained rashes, decline in immune system function, fibromyalgia, gout, lupus, spondylitis, and arthritis, among many others. Knowledge in this field is often expanding and changing and a pediatric rheumatologist must keep up with the latest developments in the field to offer the most appropriate care to patients.

These doctors utilize nonsurgical techniques to assist their patients. These techniques can include the use of medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes to improve function and quality of life. Many of the conditions treated by a rheumatologist are very complex, and as a result the treatment approach must be tailored to the individual patient. These medical practitioners are also concerned with issues such as pain management, as some of the conditions they treat are very painful.

On occasion, a pediatric rheumatologist may work with another doctor as part of a care team for a patient with comorbidities or a complex condition. Pediatric rheumatologists can be found working in hospitals, clinics, and facilities which specifically provide rheumatology care to children or patients of all ages.

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