Regular check-ups for juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

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Find out what happens during regular arthritis check-ups, how frequent they should be, and why it is important for you to attend all check-up appointments.

Key points

  • Regular check-ups with the rheumatology team are important for monitoring symptoms and responses to medications.
  • Try to coordinate multiple appointments on the same day to avoid missing school or activities.
  • If you cannot attend a scheduled appointment, please phone the doctor's office to reschedule.

It is important that you have regular check-ups with your rheumatology health-care team. This usually includes a rheumatologist, nurses, occupational therapist (OT) and/or physical therapist (PT). These check-ups will help your doctor to see how the JIA is doing. It will also give you and your parents a chance to talk to the health-care team members.

What will happen at your regular check-ups?

Your doctor will examine your joints and ask you about any symptoms or difficulties you may have had since your last visit. Your doctor may ask about your activity level, school attendance, mood, energy level and sleep. You will also have the chance to speak with the nurse to ask any questions you might have. You may have the chance to see the physical therapist, occupational therapist or social worker, depending on your needs. You can ask them about any questions or concerns you have. Your health-care team may need to adjust your medical and therapy program. Depending on how the JIA has been doing, your doctor may request blood tests or imaging studies.

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

Occasionally, 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 you are feeling lots of pain or little pain. The doctor needs to monitor your response to medications and look for any possible side effects. Even if the JIA is in remission and you feel great, you should still go to your check-ups to let your doctor know how you are doing. The rheumatology visit is your chance to let the doctor and nurses know how you are doing, and to ask questions. After all, your doctor wants to see you in your good times too!

If you cannot attend a scheduled appointment, please phone the doctor’s office to reschedule. It is a nice, courteous thing to do. It will also free up some time for another teenager to have an appointment. Make sure to reschedule for another time though. Don’t just cancel and forget about the appointment altogether.

At your check-ups, you may have appointments with different members of the health-care team. You may be worried about this, as it means that you may miss 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. Some teenagers find it helpful to keep track of their appointments using a paper or electronic calendar.

Last updated: January 31st 2017