Regular Check-ups for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

Nurse measuring height of teen girl

What will happen at the regular check-ups?

It is very important that a child with JIA have regular check-ups with the rheumatology health care team. These check-ups will help the doctor to see how the child's JIA is doing. It will also give the child and his parents a chance to talk to the members of the health care team.

The child's doctor will examine his joints and ask about any symptoms or difficulties he may have had since his last visit. The doctor may ask about his activity level, school attendance, mood, energy level, and sleep. He will also have the chance to speak with the nurse to ask any questions he might have. He may have the chance to see the physical therapist, occupational therapist, or social worker, depending on his needs. 

The health care team may need to adjust the child's medical and therapy program. Depending on how his JIA is doing, the doctor may request blood tests or imaging studies. 

How often a child needs to see his doctor will depend on the type of JIA he has and how active it is.

Why is it important to attend all the check-ups?

Occasionally, children and teenagers find it difficult to attend their rheumatology clinic visits. They may feel that this interferes with other important things they are doing, such as school, work, sports, or spending time with friends. However, regular rheumatology check-ups are very important.

This is regardless of whether a child is feeling lots of pain or little pain. The doctor needs to monitor his response to medications and look for any possible side effects. Even if his JIA is in remission and he feels just great, he should still go to his check-ups to let his doctor know how he is doing. The rheumatology visit is your child's chance to let the doctor and nurses know how he is doing, and to ask questions. After all, the doctor wants to see him in his good times too!

At the check-ups, a child may have appointments with different members of the health care team. You may be worried about this, as it means missing school or other activities. Try and work with members of the health care team to see if you can coordinate these visits on the same day. It might be helpful to keep track of appointments using a paper or electronic calendar.

Note: If your child cannot attend a scheduled appointment, please phone the doctor's office to reschedule. It will free up some time for another child to have an appointment.

Ronald M. Laxer, MDCM, FRCPC

Adam M. Huber, MSc, MD, FRCPC

Alex V. Levin, MD, MHSc, FAAP, FAAO, FRCSC

Jennifer Stinson, RN, PhD, CPNP

Lori B. Tucker, MD

Carl L. von Baeyer, PhD