Chandana Shilpa Kollipara, D.O.
Staying Ahead of Rheumatic Diseases
Many people believe that arthritis is a stand-alone disease; however, it is a term that refers to more than 100 different rheumatic diseases. Rheumatic diseases affect your joints, tendons, ligaments, bones and organs. More than 40 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis or rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease.
Rheumatic diseases are not easily identified in the early stages, and accurately diagnosing an autoimmune disease can be tricky. Because autoimmune diseases tend to arrive unpredictably, disguised as other conditions, rheumatologists must do the necessary detective work to discover the cause of swelling and pain.
“Rheumatic diseases are complex and tend to change or evolve over time,” says Dr. Kollipara, doctor of osteopathic medicine and assistant professor of clinical medicine at LSU School of Medicine. “While we treat patients at any stage of the disease, early treatment can minimize the long-term, cumulative damage caused by chronic rheumatic conditions and increase the likelihood of keeping the disease in remission.”
Rheumatologists work closely with patients to identify the problem and design an individualized treatment program. The two diseases most commonly associated with the term arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is caused by cartilage breakdown in one or more joints in the fingers, hips, knees, feet and the spine in the neck and lower back. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory arthritis that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and limitations in the motion and function of multiple joints. It is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis. Other rheumatic diseases that are treated by rheumatologists include systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, sjogrens, myositis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and vasculitis.
Rheumatic conditions are typically chronic, meaning the conditions persist over long periods of time, often lifetimes, even though symptoms may not always be present. Signs and symptoms include pain and swelling of the joints, which may also lead to multi-organ system involvement.
Because some rheumatic diseases are complex, one visit to a rheumatologist may not be enough to determine a diagnosis and course of treatment. “Shared decision-making is key,” Dr. Kollipara says. “We discuss with patients and primary care physicians to devise the best plan of care to achieve patient-centered care. Treatment plans include medications, regular exercise, a healthy diet and stress management. Getting treatment early in the disease process helps control disease and decrease flares of disease.”
Advances in the Field
Aggressive treatment, such as biologics (genetically engineered proteins made from human genes), can help prevent long-term disability from rheumatoid arthritis. Biologics may be prescribed to patients with moderate to severe RA and don’t respond to traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Patients may take biologics alone or along with other rheumatoid arthritis medications.
The field of rheumatology is constantly moving forward. “There continues to be rapid development of new classes of medications, and these medications are being approved for multiple diseases.” Dr. Kollipara says. “This is providing more options to patients than ever before to keep rheumatic disease under control and is improving patients’ quality of life. The advances we are making in this field are fascinating, and it is exciting to be at the forefront of that.”
Dr. Kollipara started her educational career at Youngstown State University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology. She then pursued and obtained a Post Baccalaureate Certificate and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Kollipara completed her residency at Ohio Health Riverside Methodist Hospital in 2015. She then finished her education with a Rheumatology Fellowship at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. After completing her fellowship training, she joined the faculty at the rank of Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine’s Section of Rheumatology.
“My first exposure to the medical profession was though watching my grandfather,” Dr. Kollipara says. “He was a physician in a small rural village in India who provided care to the underserved. I learned the value of service and compassion from other family members as well. Several times a year we volunteered for the home for disabled. Our patients come to us at the most vulnerable time, when they are sick. Being compassionate and empathic is so important in helping patients reach their ultimate goals.”
Describing the rheumatology department at LSU, Dr. Kollipara says her team of eager trainees, seasoned attending physicians, dedicated nurses and support staff are committed to practice the most evidence-based medicine and to offer the best resources to all patients.
Medical School: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Residency: Ohio Health Riverside Methodist Hospital
Fellowship: Louisiana State University
Board Certification: Internal Medicine and Rheumatology
LSU Healthcare Network Clinic
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New Orleans, LA 70112