Nearly 300,000 children in the US have arthritis; find treatment at Helen DeVos

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – When you hear about “arthritis,” you generally think of older adults… but arthritis also affects kids.

Without the proper treatment, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis can cause some serious problems for growing children. The pediatric rheumatologists at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital help patients and their families manage this chronic illness. Today, we had Dr. Khalid Abulaban in studio to discuss and answer the questions below…


What do pediatric rheumatologists diagnose and treat?

  • Rheumatology focuses on auto-immune diseases that involve the joints, muscles and connective tissues
  • The conditions typically effect movement and quality of daily life
  • Your body recognizes itself as a threat and fights back
  • Rheumatologists provide long-term care for patients with these diseases  they will consult with other providers to come up with the best treatment plans

What is the main condition you treat?

  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
  • Nearly 300,000 children in the United States have some sort of arthritis

Can you tell us more about this condition?

  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis is caused by inflammation in the joints
  • Some of the key symptoms include swelling, heat and pain in the affected areas
  • This specific kind of arthritis usually happens to children between 18 months and 16 years old

How do you typically test and detect this disease in children?

  • There is no single test that can detect the diagnosis of JIA
  • The diagnosis is usually made after taking a full medical history including physical exam by a pediatric rheumatologists arthritis is detected in 1 or more joints
  • Sometimes labs and certain imagines like x-rays, ultrasounds help in aiding the diagnosis
  • The JIA symptoms must be present for at least 6 weeks – many conditions mimic arthritis

What are some specific treatments Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital offers?

  • We recognize that early detection is key for successful treatment
  • We have 3 pediatric rheumatologists who are experts in evaluating the symptoms and precisely design plans for treating the specific needs of the patient
  • There are only around 350 active practicing clinical pediatric rheumatologists in the country and here in Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital we have 3
  • The care team is made up of several different specialists that can created a well-rounded plan for the child to maintain normal activity




Pediatric Rheumatology

35 Michigan Street SE, Suite 4150

Grand Rapids, MI 49503