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Rheumatology Providers


Esther Hwang, MD


Kye Park, MD, MPH


Lisa Vasanth, MD


Marcia Sparling, MD


Theresa Karplus, MD


Uzma Khan, MD


Rheumatology Locations

87th Avenue Clinic
700 NE 87th Ave
Vancouver, WA 98664

Information about Rheumatology


What Is Rheumatology?

We all have moments when questions about pain outweigh our answers. Is this pain in my knee going to go away on its own? Why am I so stiff in the morning? Why does everything hurt when I’m just sitting down? Rheumatology involves the diagnosis, treatment and care related to arthritis and other issues that affect movement or mobility.

Rheumatologists focus on health problems related to the joints, muscles, bones and sometimes other internal organs (such as kidneys, lungs, blood vessels, and even the brain). Among a rheumatologist’s many roles include assessing signs and symptoms of rheumatic disease and joint disorders, measuring overall physical function and well-being, examining results from advanced imaging and labs, creating treatment plans, and referring to and/or partnering with other specialists to support a patient’s long-term health and quality of life.

How We Are Different

When your questions are about flexibility, mobility, and bodily pain, you’ll find your answers with our rheumatologists. You’ll also find support, evaluations, treatment, and effective strategies for a full range of rheumatologic disorders. Our specialists work directly with your primary care provider, whether you are dealing with a chronic illness like Lupus, the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, back pain that keeps you off the golf course, or other issues that affect your mobility.


We see patients with joint related disorders (arthritis, soft tissue disorders), systemic autoimmune diseases, and osteoporosis:

Inflammatory arthritis:
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spondyloarthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, enteropathic arthritis, and undifferentiated spondylarthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
Crystal arthritis:
  • Gout
  • Pseudogout
  • Hydroxyapatite associated arthritis
Soft tissue disorders:
  • Lateral and medial epicondylitis
  • De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
  • Pes anserine bursitis
  • Rotator cuff tendinitis
  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • “Trigger finger” (flexor tenosynovium)
  • Giant cell arteritis,Takayasu’s arteritis
  • Polyarteritis nodosa
  • ANCA-associated vasculitides, including granulomatous polyangiitis (Wegener’s), Churg-Strauss vasculitis, microscopic polyangiitis
  • Hypersensitivity vasculitis, leukocytoclastic vasculitis
Inflammatory myositis:
  • Polymyositis
  • Dermatomyositis
Systemic autoimmune diseases:
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Systemic sclerosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Amyloidosis
  • Sjogren syndrome
  • Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome
  • Undifferentiated connective tissue diseases, overlap syndromes, and mixed connective tissue disease
  • Behcet’s syndrome
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteopenia
Additional services:
  • Nerve Conduction Testing
  • Pain Management Strategies
  • Epidural Injections
  • Joint pain
  • Dexa Scanning
  • Bone Density Testing Interpretations
  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Osteoporosis
What role does nutrition/diet play getting arthritis later in life?

Many people do not view arthritis as a diet-related condition. In reality, what you eat can and does impact your joints, with some foods alleviating arthritis pain, and others aggravating or compounding the situation. In general, if you’re worried about food and arthritis, avoid a diet with too many saturated and trans fats, and too much salt and sugar.

How do you define fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition—that is, a medical condition that impairs the joints and/or soft tissues and causes chronic pain. It isn’t, however, a form of arthritis, as it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues. Fibromyalgia affects five million Americans across ages, gender and ethnicity. While the exact cause is unknown, many people associate the development of fibromyalgia with traumatic event, illnesses, or repetitive injuries. For some, fibromyalgia seems to occur spontaneously.

How do I know if I’m at risk for osteoporosis?

There are a number of factors to consider, everything from your age to the types of medications you are on. Here’s a brief breakdown of a few considerations:

  • Bone mass begins to decline naturally with age, usually after age 30. Women over the age of 50 have the greatest risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Research suggests that Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to develop osteoporosis, while hip fractures are twice as likely to occur in Caucasian women as in African-American women.
  • Petite and thin women, and small-boned, thin men, have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis than individuals with larger frames and more body weight.
  • If your parents or grandparents have had any signs of osteoporosis, such as a fractured hip after a minor fall, you may be at greater risk of developing the disease. Likewise, your own prior history of broken bones can increase your chances of developing osteoporosis.
  • Smoking cigarettes puts you at higher risk of having osteoporosis and fractures, while heavy alcohol use can lead to thinning of the bones and increase your risk of fracture.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis increases your risk for osteoporosis.
  • The long-term use of steroids such as prednisone has been shown to increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
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