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Achy Breaky Joints: Is Your Child’s Joint Pain More than Just Growing Pains?
Monday, July 9, 2012 - 12 Noon (Eastern Time)

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Steven Spalding, MD

  • Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Disease
  • Section for Pediatric Medical Subspecialties
  • Pediatric Rheumatologist
  • Cleveland Clinic

Andrew Zeft, MD

  • Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Disease
  • Section for Pediatric Medical Subspecialties
  • Pediatric Rheumatologist
  • Cleveland Clinic

Does your child complain about aching legs or sore joints? Like chicken pox and strep throat, growing pains can be a rite of passage for children. Growing pains typically occur between the ages of 3 and 7 and are often described as an ache or throb in the legs, knees, head or abdomen. Some kids are predisposed to growing pains, which are real discomforts for many children and can be more intense after a day of vigorous activity. Kids typically feel the pains at night, with symptoms subsiding in the morning. Often, a massage and Tylenol with a bit of food helps children feel better.

However, certain pains—especially persistent pain and tenderness in the joints—can mean something more serious, such as juvenile arthritis, bone infections, or rheumatic fever. If your child develops certain symptoms, it’s important to notify your pediatrician immediately. Worrisome symptoms that might indicate something more serious than growing pains include:
o Persistent pain, pain in the morning or tenderness, swelling and redness in a joint
o Joint pain associated with injury
o Limping, weakness or unusual tenderness

The Center for Pediatric Rheumatology at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital provides a complete spectrum of care for children and adolescents who present with a wide range of rheumatic disorders, including joint swelling, juvenile arthritis, acute or chronic limp, or evidence of an autoimmune disease. A wide range of specialized, multidisciplinary pediatric services are available to the child and family with a rheumatic disorder, including nursing, physical and occupational therapy, orthotics, pediatric ophthalmology and orthopedics. Expert consultations are also readily available in pediatric radiology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, neurology, nephrology, cardiology, and other sub-specialty services. Children requiring inpatient rehabilitation services can be treated at the nationally recognized Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital for Rehabilitation.

Cleveland Clinic is a regional, national, and international resource, and is regularly ranked among the top five hospitals in the United States by US News & World Report. The Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases is also rated among the 2 best programs in Rheumatology in the U.S.

In addition to providing pediatric patients with quality family-centered care we also offer rheumatology care for children and adolescents outside of the country. Our International Center regularly arranges visas, travel, and accommodations for families who require extensive out-patient evaluations and/or in-patient management.

Steven Spalding, MD, has a dual appointment in the Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Disease and in the Section for Pediatric Medical Subspecialties. He is also a member of the Center for Vasculitis Care and Research. Dr. Spalding earned his medical degree from Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton and completed his pediatric residency and pediatric rheumatology fellowship at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in general pediatrics and pediatric rheumatology.

Dr. Spalding’s current research involves examining the effect of age on presentation and treatment of Periodic Fever, Aphthous stomatitis, Pharyngitis, and Adenopathy (PFAPA) Syndrome as well as the manifestations and treatment of airway disease in pediatric Wegener's Granulomatosis. Dr. Spalding is also involved in several national clinical trials in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) and recurrent fever syndromes. His clinical interests include pediatric vasculitis, recurrent fever syndromes, treatment of JIA, and treatment of pediatric uveitis.

Andrew Zeft, MD, also has a dual appointment in the Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Disease and in the Section for Pediatric Medical Subspecialties. He earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and completed his pediatric residency at Tulane University Hospital & Clinics in New Orleans. He completed his pediatric rheumatology fellowship at Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center in Seattle, and is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in general pediatrics and pediatric rheumatology.

Dr. Zeft has presented, published and participated in research on a variety of pediatric rheumatology subjects, including juvenile idiopathic arthritis and Wegener’s Granulomatosis in childhood. His clinical interests include juvenile dermatomyositis, vasculitis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, localized scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus and other rheumatologic conditions that affect children.

Join us as Dr. Spalding and Dr. Zeft answer your questions about childhood joint pains, including symptoms, treatment, and signs of potentially more serious conditions.

This Health Chat will open on Sunday, July 8, 2012 to allow you to submit questions. We will try to answer as many questions as possible during the chat. Please create an account to attend the chat and submit your questions.