By Kyle Harner, MD
What is a rheumatologist?
It is more than just a big word that is hard to pronounce. Rheumatologists are doctors with specialized training in the medical management of arthritis and osteoporosis. AFTER completing a bachelor’s degree and medical school, at least five years of training is required– three years of internal medicine and at least two years of rheumatology training. A lot of schooling is involved to prepare rheumatologists to aid in preventing and managing ongoing joint issues, with a goal to keep arthritis patients from needing orthopedic surgery for as long as possible.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, everything from osteoarthritis to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus to scleroderma, psoriatic arthritis to ankylosing spondylitis. A rheumatologist is trained to recognize the difference between all types of arthritis. Arriving at the proper diagnosis involves using a combination of skills and specialized testing, including a detailed history, physical examination, X-rays, laboratory testing, as well as possible advanced imaging (such as ultrasound, CT and MRI).
Once a diagnosis is reached, a rheumatologist will discuss personalized treatment options, which take into account each patient’s individual non-arthritis medical problems, different medication sensitivities, and different opinions on possible treatment. After helping a patient decide on a course of treatment, a rheumatologist will closely monitor for improvement and possible side effects to treatment. Arthritis and osteoporosis are typically lifelong problems, for which patients should continue to see a rheumatologist long-term to manage these issues.
In addition to managing the use of medications to treat arthritis, rheumatologists are experts in joint and other injections. To assist in control of arthritis symptoms, rheumatologists inject shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles and small joints in the hands and feet. They also inject areas around the joints to include near tendons and other tender points.
Specialized Rheumatology Care
As a new patient at Carolina Arthritis Center, expect that your first visit will last at least an hour. During this time, one of our providers will get to know you and understand your arthritis or osteoporosis concerns. Time will be spent filling out intake paperwork, talking to the provider, and obtaining any needed imaging studies and labs. Injections may also be given at your initial visit. Follow-up visits are typically shorter. At follow-up visits, the rheumatology provider will evaluate progress, changes to your treatment as necessary, and discuss the results of any recent testing.
Carolina Arthritis Center offers the services of have two board certified rheumatologists and two rheumatology trained nurse practitioners to assist patients with arthritis and osteoporosis. Melissa Ott, NP and Jennifer Hammond, NP work closely with both Drs. Robert Oglesby and Kyle Harner to ensure the best rheumatologic care possible for our patients.
As a single specialty clinic, Carolina Arthritis Center has the time and resources to provide personalized care for each patient. To fulfill this mission, Carolina Arthritis Center has on an site X-ray, bone density, laboratory and infusion suite. Infusion suites are used to deliver specialized arthritis and osteoporosis treatments that must be monitored during administration. These infusions are administered either intravenously or by injection.
In addition to excellent service providers, Carolina Arthritis Center’s dedicated team of front desk/reception, nursing, X-ray/bone-density, laboratory, infusion, insurance and administrative personnel work together to deliver the most up-to-date and personalized treatment for our patients.
Carolina Arthritis Center has a long history of helping arthritis and osteoporosis patients in Eastern North Carolina, with continuously patient care since opening in 2001. Carolina Arthritis Center is located at 2355 Hemby Lane in Greenville. To make an appointment, please call 252-321-8474 to speak to a referral coordinator. Patients can self-refer or be referred by another medical provider. Visit www.carolina-arthritis.com for more information about rheumatology services. We look forward to meeting you.