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Recently, Seth sat down with Dr. Thomas Lehman to talk about JIA, his re-published book, and resources available for children with arthritis.

Dr. Thomas Lehman is the Chief of Pediatric Rheumatology for the Hospital for Special Surgery and Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Weill Medical Center of Cornell University in New York.

Seth: We are here in the heart of the practice of a very special doctor to me personally and, of course, professionally, Dr. Thomas Lehman. Welcome.

Dr. Lehman: Thank you.

Seth: Good to have a chance to talk to you. We are essentially sitting down here for a couple of minutes with the Michael Jordan of pediatric rheumatology. Yes or yes?

Dr. Lehman: Sure. [Laughs]

Seth: Actually the topic of today’s interview, and I am really grateful for a few minutes of your time, is talking about A Parent’s Guide to Rheumatic Disease in Children. So for starters, what is it about?

Dr. Lehman: Actually, this is an updated version of my original book, It’s Not Just Growing Pains. The publisher decided to change the name because there was some confusion with the TV show Growing Pains, etc. among book stores so they thought this was a clearer title. We updated the book to include all the latest medications … [and] it is now a much shorter and inexpensive paperback edition with all of the basic information provided and up-to-date.

Seth: And coming from a source like you, that is tremendous. I mean, ultimately, it covers all the information that someone with a child undergoing “Not Just Growing Pains” is experiencing?

Dr. Lehman: Absolutely. The point of this book is to help the parents of children — who have complaints in their muscles, bones or joints — understand what is going on, figure out what is going wrong, and get their children the best possible care.

Seth: It is also, incidentally, the required reading of Mrs. Johnson’s 7th grade class this summer.

Dr. Lehman: Great. Then they will be a very well educated class of students.

Dr. Thomas Lehman

Seth: Since we have you here for a minute, as a pediatric rheumatologist, I can appreciate and understand that you are surrounded by families — specifically parents of children who are experiencing the many forms of juvenile arthritis (JIA to lupus, etc.). When you meet them for the first time, is there a message you give them to allay fears of an uncertain future?

Dr. Lehman: Certainly. I think the most important thing for parents to understand in this day is that with all the new medicines we can fix the vast majority of children when they get to us early enough in the course of their disease. It is no longer a matter of children needing surgery in the future, children needing rehabilitation. With the modern medicines we have, if parents get to us on time and let us use the drugs we need to use, we can keep almost all of these children every bit as well as they need to be with a perfectly normal, bright future.

Seth: I love it! Beautiful! It brings a tear to my arthritic eye. It’s true and while there are politicians that have co-opted the phrase “Maverick,” may I be so bold as to say you were the original?

Dr. Lehman: Well certainly we have worked hard to develop new therapies for children with arthritis and to make sure everyone understands the importance of getting the best possible therapy to get the best result as early in the disease course as can be done.

Seth: And wearing these cowboy boots, is that to make it easier to kick me in the butt later?

Dr. Lehman: Absolutely.

Seth: That last comment is for you, because we go way back. The book, again, is a follow-up to your last book It’s Not Just Growing Pains and this new title is A Parent’s Guide To Rheumatic Disease in Children. If it is anything like the first one, it is a really comforting overall message that:

A.  There is a lot known now.
B.  There are a lot of great ways to treat it.
C.  The future has never been brighter.

Would you agree?

Dr. Lehman: Absolutely.

Seth: See, how easy was this? Dr. Thomas Lehman here at the Hospital for Special Surgery. During this entire interview, the “Growing Pains” theme song has played over and over again in my head. We thank you again Dr. Lehman. We look forward to your latest book and to keep cheering you on. Thank you for all that you do.

Dr. Lehman: It is my pleasure. Thank you, Seth.

To read Dr. Lehman’s bio page, visit his personal site, or order his book from, click on one of the links below:

Article References
HSS Physician Profile for Thomas J.A. Lehman, MD, site accessed on 06/02/08

Dr. Lehman’s Personal Site, site accessed on 06/02/08 A Parent’s Guide to Rheumatic Disease in Children, site accessed on 06/02/08