Meet Dr. Lesley Davila
Rheumatology Specialist in Dallas

Lesley Davila, M.D., specializes in solving puzzling chronic illnesses called rheumatic diseases, which are inflammatory illnesses that range from rheumatoid arthritis and lupus to ankylosing spondylitis and vasculitis. These diseases are often difficult to treat – and even to diagnose.

“People with rheumatic diseases feel like something is off long before they get the actual symptoms that allow for a conclusive diagnosis,” Dr. Davila says.

“I tell my patients that even if I’m the third doctor they’ve seen, it doesn’t mean the first two doctors failed to diagnose them. Sometimes it just takes time for these diseases to manifest in a way that we can figure out the puzzle.”

Dr. Davila’s goal is to help patients with rheumatic diseases feel like themselves again. For example, patients with rheumatoid arthritis often come in aching and sore, to the point they can no longer work or take care of their families.

“Although it takes time – usually a month, maybe a year – to get their symptoms completely under control, a lot of these people will feel significantly better rather quickly once they start treatment, and they ultimately get back to their normal healthy lifestyles with just some maintenance medications. That’s what I really enjoy seeing,” she says.

New injectable medications for rheumatoid arthritis have made big improvements in the lives of many patients.

“Twenty years ago, the treatments for rheumatoid arthritis were limited,” Dr. Davila says. “Today, a lot of new medications have come out, with more coming down the pipeline.”

These new biological injectables offer improved control of symptoms and prevention of joint damage, and most people are able to give themselves the injections at home. But Dr. Davila notes that these new medications can have side effects such as infections, so they require monitoring by a rheumatologist.

Dr. Davila also offers her patients the latest treatment options through the clinical research center at UT Southwestern.

“We have trials for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Those trials are ongoing and constantly changing; they can involve new medications, medications at different doses, or new treatment protocols,” she says. “We’re always trying to find the best ways to treat our patients.”