Help needed picking correct medical specialty

Before anyone says anything, I am NOT asking for medical advice. I know better. :wink:

My 16 year old daughter has problems with frequent joint popping - not on purpose, multiple times of day/night, audible & with pain/discomfort.

I suspect at least part of the problem is something I found online this week called Snapping Hip Syndrome, or dancer’s hip, but I want to take her to a doctor because there is pain/discomfort involved, and that’s not something I want to home diagnose or treat.

My question is this: which type of specialist would be the most appropriate for her symptoms (popping joints, not restricted to her hip region), a rheumatologist or a sports medicine orthopedist?

At this point I’m leaning towards rheumatologist, but I don’t want to waste our time going to the wrong type of doctor for the problem, and we’re in the process of trying to find her a new family physician.

Thanks for any help, guys.

You can call and ask what the clinic thinks is the type of specialist to start with.

If you have a general practitioner/family doc I’d ask him or her which specialist may be appropriate.

For clarification, we do not currently have a family doc. I tried asking at one of the specialist offices I called, but they would not give me an opinion as to whether or not they were the appropriate specialty for the issue, just offered to make an appointment. (To be fair, I took that as that this would be something they worked with, but they could just be looking to pad their books, too.)

There are certainly places that will advise you. Look for a larger place that has a patient adviser for this type of thing. Sometimes they won’t call it a patient adviser and you’ll see it called something like ask a nurse. Having never gone to a Sports Doctor I can’t tell you if they or the rheumatologist is the better first choice. Often a rheumatologist won’t see someone without a referral.

If it was a joint problem or something that occurred due to high use/sports/etc… I’d go for the orthopedics/sports medicine doctor (as they’d be more likely to have seen such things). Though if you have insurance, they may want you to go to see a primary care doctor first and THEN get a referral from them as to where to go.

She’s not a terribly active kid, although she’s always been extremely flexible. She doesn’t play sports, dance, or do anything else (other than occasionally sit in odd positions) that would cause joint strain/damage, which is why I was leaning towards rheumatology - but just because she’s not active doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a sports-type injury.

If it is not traumatic and if it involves multiple joints, the most likely specialist to end up taking care of her definitively is a rheumatologist.

With such minimal data (you don’t know the diagnosis yet) it’s hard to say, but that’s my suggestion, worth what you paid for it.

Within the various specialties, there are areas of interest, so it is possible a rheumatologist who narrows her clientèle to the elderly might be a worse choice than an orthopedist who emphasizes systemic illness or developmental problems (or whatever it ends up being). And of course any competent physician will start with the same battery of tests.

Still, if you want to start with a specialist up front, I’d say rheumatologist; one that works with youngsters is a plus. There are a number of orthopedists who specialize in youngsters, and that would be a good alternate choice.

If it were me, I’d go for the rheumatologist.

That’s because the rheumatologist will be better placed to determine whether the issues your daughter is suffering from are an isolated issue with the joints, or the manifestation of a disorder or illness that is affecting the joints particularly.

Orthopaedics people are who I would go to for treatment once the condition has been fully investigated and a diagnosis of a specific joint problem has been reached.

At this point you’re not 100% sure whether you’re dealing with a repitive strain injury, or something else- I’d let the rheumatologist get to the bottom of that and then if they feel the orthopod is appropriate they’ll refer you on.

Here’s my reasoning- it is better your child is investigated thoroughly by a rheumatolgist to exclude things like Marfan’s syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos and found to have dancer’s hip, than that she is treated by a sports medicine doc for dancer’s hip and Marfan’s or EDS is missed.

I’m not saying that EDS or Marfan’s are the cause of the problem (both being rare disorders), just outlining why a rheumatologist would be my personal first choice where there is no firm diagnosis of a joint problem-especially if it is affecting multiple joints.

Thanks. My gut instinct has been confirmed. She has an appointment with a rheumatologist next week. :smiley:

I’m curious: if someone were hospitalized for complications from mild undiagnosed EDS would a rheumatolgist make the definitive diagnosis? What speciality would treat long-term complications from diagnosed EDS?

The best choice is probably actually a physiatrist.

I would say a theumatologist would be the best choice. Sports medicine would be reasonable. Physiatry might be reasonable, but this might ultimately depend on the final diagnosis and would not be my first choice (this injury may not need rehab).

Rheumatologists treat conditions which affect the joints, connective tissues and skin.

They look after people with Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, psoriatic arthritis, Mixed connective tissue disorders, osteoarthritis, scleroderma, and a host of other things, including EDS and Marfans.

Rheumatologists are medical specialists, that is, they won’t be the ones doing your hip replacement for your arthritis (that would be the orthopaedic surgeon), but they’ll be the one sorting out your meds to try and keep the arthritis in check.

EDS could present to any number of specialists- including dermatologists, internists, orthopaedic surgeons, paediatrics and general medicine, and anyone could order the correct diagnostic tests. It would, generally, however be a rheumatologist or orthopod who then took over care (as treatment for EDS is supportive and based on managing symptoms).

Interesting, thank you.