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Rheumatology – The art of unraveling mysteries

July 24, 2023 - Your Health Matters

Rheumatology, the world of joints and bones, holds the key to keeping our bodies happily dancing. The presence of a local rheumatologist is crucial for any community as it offers numerous benefits and advantages for both patients and the overall healthcare system. Knowing this important piece of healthcare, Meritus Health recently expanded its services to include Meritus Rheumatology.

So, what exactly is a rheumatologist, and can one help you live a better life?

“That sounds like a simple question, but it’s really complex,” said Dr. Francesca Okoye from Meritus Rheumatology. “Rheumatologists are like ‘super internists.’ We investigate the past, take a detailed history of the present, and then use blood work or imaging to get a clearer picture of what is happening,” she said.

Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and osteoarthritis often require ongoing management and regular monitoring by a rheumatologist. Patients with these conditions may experience flare-ups, require medication adjustments, or need immediate medical attention for new symptoms, according to Dr. Okoye.

“When a rheumatologist is readily available in the community, it eliminates the need for patients to travel long distances to seek specialized care. This convenience translates into saved time, reduced stress, and improved overall patient experience,” Dr. Okoye said.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, but how it impacts people differs widely depending on the patient.

“Osteoarthritis can range widely from having no symptoms at all and can even be found incidentally, to being a progressive disabling disorder. Continuity of care is a vital aspect of managing chronic conditions like rheumatological disorders. When patients have a local rheumatologist, it facilitates a long-term patient-doctor relationship, and that’s an important piece of the care plan,” Dr. Okoye said.

Having a rheumatologist within Meritus Health also promotes coordination of care. Chronic diseases often affect individuals on multiple levels, including physical, emotional, and social aspects. With support all under the trusted Meritus umbrella, care coordination can be a seamless process.

“Primary care physicians can refer patients directly to us, reducing unnecessary visits to specialists in other areas. This streamlined approach improves healthcare utilization," Dr. Okoye said.

By eliminating the need for long-distance travel, local rheumatologists ensure that patients can receive timely and appropriate care, leading to improved health outcomes. Moreover, they play a pivotal role in fostering community support and collaboration, benefiting not only the patients but also the healthcare system as a whole.

From grandma's beloved knitting needles to that salsa class you've been itching to join, rheumatologists are part of the healthcare team that helps to keep your joints in tip-top shape, and assist in to goal of easing inflammation, soothing pain and keeping you moving and grooving.

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Francesca Okoye, M.D.

Meritus Rheumatology