Definition of "rheumatoid arthritis."
It is a systemic disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the joint.
Joints most often affected are knees, hands, and feet.
It is characterized by remissions and exacerbations.
Factors that may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Age (can affect any age, including children, but peak incidence is ages 35-45).
Sex (women have 3:1 ratio to men).
Defective autoimmune system.
Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Fatigue and weakness.
Loss of appetite.
Pain and tenderness of joint.
Lumps or nodules under skin.
Measures to control rheumatoid arthritis.
Always get physician's approval.
Exercise at a slow, steady pace.
Perform active or passive range-of-motion exercises.
Never exercise a hot, inflamed joint.
Balance exercise with rest.
Set realistic goals.
Stop exercise or activity if pain occurs.
Control weight to prevent increased pressure on the joints. (Provide "Weight Reduction" handout as needed.)
Eat well-balanced meals high in protein, vitamins, and iron. (Provide "Daily Food Guide" handout.)
Avoid "quackery" diets.
Avoid excess of sugar and salt. (Provide "Restrict Sodium" handout.)
Avoid situations that may cause stress.
Learn stress management techniques. (Refer to Anxiety Teaching Guide.)
Apply heat or cold as ordered.
Apply splints as ordered.
Take pain medication as ordered.
Consider other alternatives such as biofeedback, relaxation techniques, pain clinics, etc. (Provide "Relaxation Techniques" handout.)
Physical or occupational therapy.
Self-help devices (Provide Self-Help" handout.)
Good body mechanics (Provide "Body Mechanics" handout.)
Assistive or protective devices (braces, splints, etc.).
Joint protection principles (Provide "Joint Protection" handout.)
Emotional support (support groups, spiritual guidance, psychotherapy, etc.).
Possible complications of rheumatoid arthritis.
Deformity and disability.