Rheumatology Care in Ocean Springs

Singing River Health Sytem rheumatology is a general, inpatient and outpatient consultative rheumatology practice seeing all types of rheumatic disorders, located in Ocean Springs near Ocean Springs Hospital. The practice currently has one Board Certified Rheumatologist, a full time dedicated Rheumatology nurse, and a Nurse Practitioner. We offer in-house infusion services, patient education services for injectable medications, radiology and lab services, and we are pleased to be introducing musculoskeletal ultrasound techniques to our office to aid in managing the rheumatic disorders we treat.

What do Rheumatologists Treat?
Rheumatologists treat arthritis, certain autoimmune diseases (when the body comes under attack by its own immune system), musculoskeletal pain and osteoporosis. There are more than 100 types of these rheumatic conditions. A few of them are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, scleroderma, Sjogren’s,  osteoporosis, and tendinitis. Some of the rheumatic diseases are very serious and can be challenging to diagnose and treat.

When Should you See a Rheumatologist?
If muscle or joint pains are not severe and began just a few days before, it makes sense to give the problem time to resolve on its own. But sometimes, pain in the joints, muscles or bones is severe or lasts more than a few days. At that point, you should see your personal physician. If appropriate, your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist.

Many types of rheumatic diseases are not easy to find in the early stage, and you may need to see a specialist. Rheumatologists are specially trained to find the cause of joint swelling and pain. It is important for patients to get a correct diagnosis early so that proper treatment can begin. Some musculoskeletal problems respond best to treatment in the early stages of the disease.

Because some rheumatic diseases are complex, one visit to a rheumatologist may not be enough to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. These diseases tend to be chronic (long term) and often change over time. Sometimes they get worse, and sometimes they go away for a while and then return. Rheumatologists work closely with patients to find the problem and design a treatment plan. The role the rheumatologist plays in your health care depends on many factors, including the patient’s needs. Most often, the rheumatologist works with other physicians.

What is a Rheumatologist?
A rheumatologist is an internist or pediatrician who received further training in the diagnosis (detection) and treatment of arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases. Also called “rheumatic” diseases, these diseases affect the joints, muscles and bones.

The Rheumatologists

Heather North, Rheumatology Doctor

Doctor Heather North completed her 3 year Fellowship training in Rheumatology at the Roger Williams Brown University Affiliate Fellowship program in 1994.  She has been in practice in Ocean Springs since leaving the United States Air Force in 1996. She served two years at Keesler Air Force Base as the Chief of Rheumatology, and served two years as a Staff Internist at Plattsburgh AFB, NY after finishing her Internal Medicine training at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, CT. Her medical training was completed  at the State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse, NY, having obtained her medical degree in 1986.

Dr. Nicole Walton_rheumatology_doctor

Doctor Nicole R. Walton, DO, rheumatologist, received her medical degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences’ College of Osteopathic Medicine. She performed an internal residency at the Medical College of Georgia. She also performed a fellowship at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston Salem, N.C. Walton is board certified in Rheumatology.

What Kind of Training do Rheumatologists Have?
Rheumatologists must first complete four years of medical school and three years of residency training in primary care (either internal medicine or pediatrics). After taking a national exam to become board certified, rheumatologists devote two to three years in specialized training in an accredited rheumatology fellowship program. Most rheumatologists who plan to treat patients choose to become board certified in rheumatology after their fellowship training.

Is Specialty Care More Expensive?
You may be surprised to learn that specialized care may save time and money and reduce the severity of the disease. A rheumatologist has special training to spot clues in the history and physical exam. The proper tests done early may save money in the long run. Prompt diagnosis and specially tailored treatment often save money and minimize the long-term effects of rheumatic diseases.

11 Doctor’s Drive, Ocean Springs, MS / 228-872-8768

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