Juvenile Arthritis – Basics.

As per the Arthritis Foundation, juvenile arthritis refers to any form of arthritis or an arthritis-related condition that develops in children or teenagers who are less than 18 years of age. Approximately 294,000 children under the age of 18 are affected by pediatric arthritis and rheumatologic conditions every year, and it is one of the most common childhood diseases in the United States. Essential facts about JRA are here.

We learned that there are several ways that this condition is diagnosed: One is indicated by positive blood test results. Our less experienced pediatrician relied on this test to make an incorrect diagnosis for our baby. Turns out, our daughter has the type of JA that does not result in a positive blood test result. We learned later that only a specialist would know this.

The bottom line is that no one knows your child as well as you do: Not your close family members, not your close friends – and not your child’s doctors. Does this mean health care professionals don't play a valuable role in the health well-being of your child? Of course not. But it does mean that your child's health is ultimately in your hands. The best medical guesses aren't always right.

Ask yourself this: If your doctor sees your child on average for 15 minutes 1-2 times/year, is that really enough time for he or she to truly get to know your child? Trust your intuition, not a physician telling you your child is going through the "terrible twos." Don't rely on this type of lazy diagnosis just because it’s coming from someone with an M.D. credential. It's called "the practice of medicine" for a reason. It's not perfect.

But your child is.

So how do you protect your child? Don't take medical advice as gospel. If your instincts say the doctor is wrong, then trust those instincts. If need be, get a second opinion. And then get a third opinion. And then get a fourth opinion. Make the health care industry truly protect your child's health.

This is in no way intended to discount the value and expertise of doctors and other health care professionals. Of course, they do wonderful work every day. But they also make terrible mistakes every day, too. Counting on the former is no excuse to risk the latter.

Listen to your child. Follow your instincts. Trust your heart and trust what your child is telling you!

If your doctor sees your child on average for 15 minutes 1-2 times/year, is that really enough time for he or she to truly get to know your child? Trust your heart, not a physician telling you your child is going through the "terrible twos."