RHEUMATOLOGY and ONE PEDIATRICS: What is this specialty?

One important facet of primary care is identifying signs of chronic conditions and making referrals, when appropriate, to specialists. This process usually involves finding a provider in-network, making an appointment, establishing care with that practice and completing the appointment, then releasing records back to your PCP.

Our providers and staff fully appreciate the strains imposed on parents to coordinate that care, so we’re pleased to offer direct connections to specialties whenever possible. On March 1, 2022, Dr. Kara Murphy Schmidt joins our organization at One Pediatrics at Simpsonville. Double board-certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Rheumatology, Dr. Schmidt provides a valuable knowledge base that patients from other practices can utilize if indicated.

But what exactly is rheumatology, and when would a patient need a referral?

Rheumatology (“room-uh-tology”) is the branch of medicine treating autoimmune diseases that may cause problems in the joints, tendons, ligaments, bones and muscles. A pediatric rheumatologist, therefore, is a pediatrician who also specializes in development and treatment of joints and muscles. Examples of conditions seen by pediatric rheumatologists include:

  • Acute joint inflammation (arthritis, including chronic forms)
  • Ehlers-Danlos and other joint hypermobility syndromes
  • Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes uncontrolled inflammation, and related conditions
  • Dermatomyositis and other forms of muscle inflammation
  • Fibromyalgia, Myofascial pain
  • Biomechanical joint pain, such as patellofemoral syndrome
  • Conditions causing inflammation of the blood vessels
  • Periodic fever syndromes
  • Chronic eye inflammation

Your PCP may refer your child to a rheumatologist for several reasons, including clear symptoms of rheumatic illness, symptoms that improve with treatment but return after medication is stopped, symptoms that don’t respond to treatment or get worse, family history of rheumatism, unusual lab results, or unexplained complications like fever, rash or fatigue.

“The distinction of a pediatric specialist is meaningful because children are not just miniature adults,” says Dr. Schmidt. “Their ability to interpret symptoms, express discomfort, and answer questions changes significantly as they age, so specialists must be trained to examine uncooperative toddlers as well as frustrated teens.”

Further, symptoms and responses to treatment can change significantly as kids grow, so pediatric rheumatologists are equipped to monitor and adjust treatment. They use any combination of medical history, physical exam, labs and imaging to reach diagnoses and make recommendations for short- and long-term management.

As with any chronic condition, early detection of musculoskeletal conditions and diseases is essential at every stage. Your pediatrician monitors development starting in infancy, making sure babies have “tummy time” to gain strength and head control; into toddlerhood as little ones learn to walk, climb and explore their world; and continuing through tween and teen years to prevent or address joint pain.

If you suspect your child has symptoms of discomfort or an autoimmune disorder—or you have already established care with a rheumatologist and would like to transfer “in-house”—contact your regular pediatrician’s office to make an appointment or discuss. An experienced professional within the One Pediatrics network ensures faster appointments, less insurance hassle, and cohesive medical records immediately visible to your PCP.

One Pediatrics at Simpsonville is the newest branch of our organization located at 133 Buck Creek Road just a few minutes outside metro Louisville off I-64. Dr. Kara Murphy Schmidt will see general pediatric patients of OPS, but she will also accept referrals for kids requiring a rheumatology consultation from other One Peds practices. Fluent in Spanish, she has over 20 years of experience treating childhood rheumatologic conditions. Dr. Schmidt received her medical degree from the University of Kentucky, and completed residency as Chief Resident in Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine.