What is a Rheumatologist? – January 2014 Health Chat with Dr. Anshul Rao
What is a Rheumatologist? Until recently, Johnston County didn’t have a full-time rheumatologist available for our residents. All of that changed with the arrival of Dr. Anshul Rao, who attended medical school at the University of Toledo Medical Center. According to Dr. Rao, “A Rheumatologist treats diseases that affect the bones, muscles, joints, and also autoimmune diseases.”
His presentation on Wednesday, January 8 in the Johnston Medical Mall was part of the Health Chats series, which is put on quarterly by members of the Johnston Health medical staff.
“What excites me about working at Johnston Health is that I actually live in the area, so being able to participate in this community and not leave means a lot to me,” said Rao. “It excites me that I can provide the care without patients having to drive, whether it’s east or west.”
Dr. Rao said about 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis, which causes the cartilage between the joints to deteriorate. It’s particularly painful as bone begins to rub against bone, and the bone begins to grow abnormally.
While osteoarthritis can be genetic or caused by a previous trauma, it is most often associated with being overweight. Therefore, the best prevention is weight loss and exercise, he says. “For every one pound of weight reduction, there’s a four-pound reduction of stress on the joints.”
While there is no medical therapy, Dr. Rao says, there are ways to treat symptoms of osteoarthritis. These include physical and aquatic therapies, bracing or splinting, cortisone injections, heat applications and taking NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen or Aleve.
The only cure for osteoarthritis is surgery to replace the joint. In general, he says, Vitamin D is critical for bone health.
Dr. Rao has offices in the Medical Arts Pavilion on the campus of Johnston Medical Center-Smithfield and in the Johnston Professional Plaza at Johnston Medical Center-Clayton. He sees adult patients only. To schedule an appointment, call 919-934-3022.