It started in his knees.
Kasper Roden-Riisnaes, 9, began complaining in March that his legs and knees hurt. They hurt so much that he had trouble standing up and walking. While his mother, Kim Roden, initially thought it was just growing pains, she knew something was wrong when her son could barely get out of bed for school.
“He was literally walking like a little old man,” Roden said. “So that day I called the doctor.”
It took blood tests, doctor appointments and several weeks, but Kaspar finally received his diagnosis in early June: He had juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Juvenile arthritis affects nearly 300,000 children in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions and Skin Diseases. But despite its prevalence, Las Vegas did not have a full-time pediatric rheumatologist until late last year. With the help of Dr. Robert Lowe, Kaspar’s family is working to increase awareness about the disease.
In August, Lowe came to the Children’s Specialty Center of Nevada, after working at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He was a physician-scientist at Children’s of Alabama, where he saw about five patients a week. He left the specialty center in December to start his own clinic, Kid’s Arthritis Care — Juvenile Arthritis and Rheumatology Care and Research Center in the southwest valley. The clinic opened in late June.
Juvenile arthritis refers to the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions and rheumatic diseases that develop in children, including idiopathic arthritis, Kawasaki disease, mixed connective tissue disease, fibromyalgia, juvenile scleroderma and juvenile dermatomyositis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Prior to Lowe’s arrival in Las Vegas, children with arthritis would have had to wait for a juvenile rheumatologist to travel to Nevada, which sometimes resulted in wait times of up to four months, according to Roden and Lowe.
“I started looking at other options in Salt Lake…