Pediatric rheumatologist Dr. Melissa Tesher consulting with a young patient and her family

The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital is a leader in the treatment of pediatric rheumatic conditions. We are one of just two sites in Illinois that specializes in pediatric rheumatology and our board-certified experts are uniquely qualified to provide individualized, comprehensive care for patients and their families. Using the latest tools available, we diagnose and treat juvenile arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles, bones and connective tissue.

Our approach to care is family-oriented, focusing on the needs of our young patients, as well as the concerns of family members and caregivers. At Comer Children's, our goal is to put children on the road to recovery as quickly as possible, so they can enjoy being kids again.

Physicians at Comer Children's Hospital specialize in the detection and treatment of rheumatic diseases in infants, children and teens. Rheumatic diseases, such as arthritis, are conditions that affect the joints, muscles, bones and connective tissue. Because these diseases often are complex and chronic, it's important for your child to see a specialist who has extensive training in managing the symptoms as well as the underlying causes. The conditions we treat include:

  • Chronic joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, including juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis
  • Lupus and mixed connective tissue disease
  • Arthritis of the spine, such as spondyloarthropathy and sacroiliitis
  • Muscle inflammation and weakness diseases like dermatomyositis
  • Inflammatory eye diseases including uveitis
  • Morphea or linear scleroderma
  • Raynaud’s
  • Systemic sclerosis/scleroderma
  • Henoch-Schonlein Purpura
  • Kawasaki’s disease
  • Sarcoidosis
  • All types of vasculitis, including ANCA-associated vasculitis, Takayasu’s arteritis, polyarteritis nodosa
  • Chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis
  • Bechet’s disease
  • Fibromyalgia and chronic pain
  • Acute rheumatic fever
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Lyme arthritis
  • Periodic fever syndromes

Depending on your child's symptoms, we may recommend oral medications, joint injections, intravenous therapies, physical or occupational therapy and/or psychosocial support, in addition to further imaging or consultation with other specialists. We will work with you and your family to determine the best course of treatment.

Pediatric rheumatologists at Comer Children's are working to advance patient care through medical education and research. In addition to training future pediatric rheumatologists through our fellowship program, residents and medical students from around the country and world come to Comer Children’s Hospital to learn about pediatric rheumatologic disease diagnosis and management.

We participate in collaborative research with other institutions across the country through the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA).

As a group of more than 400 pediatric rheumatologists and researchers, CARRA focuses on developing new and better treatments as well as focusing on determining best practices for juvenile arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, juvenile dermatomyositis, vasculitis, scleroderma, chronic pain, and other rheumatic diseases. You and your child may be asked to participate in a research study to further knowledge about pediatric rheumatic diseases.

We understand that living with a chronic illness may cause stress for a patient and his or her family. Our pediatric rheumatologists aim to reduce this anxiety by providing accessible, approachable care for children and caregivers. In addition, we encourage family members and teachers to play an active role in the treatment process. We often help parents and schools create educational plans to ensure that each child receives appropriate support throughout the day. Our ultimate goal is to help patients experience the best quality of life.

When patients come to Comer Children's, they have access to a multidisciplinary team of specialists. Our rheumatologists regularly collaborate with pediatric gastroenterologists, nephrologists, immunologists, hematologists, orthopaedic surgeons, dermatologists, and neurologists and will facilitate appointments with other experts as needed.

We also work closely with the adult rheumatology team to help older teenagers transition their care when they are ready. We are fortunate to have the only adult and pediatric trained rheumatologists in the state of Illinois who is equipped to take care of young adults with pediatric rheumatic diseases.

Meet Our Pediatric Rheumatology Team