What Happens at the Doctor's Office?
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. Now, you’ll see your doctor regularly, so he or she can keep your treatment on track. The doctor you see could be your regular pediatrician or you may start seeing a pediatric rheumatologist, who specializes in treating young people with arthritis and similar diseases.
Each visit with your doctor will usually include questions, a thorough physical exam and possibly, some additional special tests. Here’s what to expect.
Plenty of Questions
- How are you feeling? Your doctor will want to know all about your symptoms since he or she last saw you.
- How are your medications working? Your doctor will ask about any side effects you’ve experienced. It is important to tell your doctor if you are taking your medications regularly, and if not, why. The more honest you are with your doctor, the more he/she can help you.
- Anything else you want to discuss? Even if the doctor doesn’t ask, don’t be afraid to speak up with your own questions.
A Physical Exam
Your doctor will:
- feel each of your joints throughout your body.
- move your joints to check passive range of motion, or how far your joints can be moved when relaxed.
- watch you move around to check active range of motion, or how far you can move your joints yourself.
- check your body for other symptoms of juvenile arthritis, including nodules under the skin and rashes.
- examine your eyes.
Occasional Special Tests
- Laboratory tests help doctors monitor your disease as well as medication side effects. For some tests, you’ll have to pee in a cup. For many others, a technician will use a needle to draw a small amount of blood from your arm.
- Imaging tests let doctors see whether juvenile arthritis is causing long-term damage to your joints and bones. Bone scans, ultrasounds, X-rays and MRIs are all examples of imaging tests. They sometimes require an injection beforehand, but otherwise, they do not hurt.
It’s normal to feel nervous the first few times you see your doctor. But as you get to know him or her, you’ll start to feel more comfortable. These visits will also give you the chance to learn more about your disease. That knowledge can help you fight back.