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Advanced Practice Nursing. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that is chronic and consists of inflammation to different joints. RA in the hands is very common. This condition is related to an autoimmune response where the patient’s immune system ends up attacking its own body tissues. This condition can be very painful and requires certain testing for diagnoses and treatment (Mayo Clinic, 2018).
I would get a health history on this patient to determine if she has RA and what she has done for treatment of it. If this patient has a “flare up” then this patient most likely is educated and familiar with her condition. Risk factors for this condition include being female, age 40-60, having a family history of RA, smoking or other environment exposures like asbestos, and being obese (Mayo Clinic, 2018).
Some testing for this patient would include a blood test looking for elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate or C-reactive protein. Imaging could be helpful to see how this condition is progressing for the patient. Medication to help include NSAIDs, steroids, antirheumatic drugs, and biological agents. The goal is to decrease inflammation and slow the progression of the disease. Physical therapy is also an option to help the patient maintain joint flexibility (Mayo Clinic, 2018).
For patient education, it could be helpful to make sure the patient has signs to be aware of a flare up starting. It can be easier to prevent flare ups than treat them. Some signs of a flare up include an increased stiffness to the joints, entire body pain, swelling that may cause shoes not to fit, a change in fatigue that is intense, and even flu-like symptoms. Some foods or medications could be the cause of a flare up and this is something for the patient to be aware of (Healthline, 2019).
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