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Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease without an unknown origin that affects peripheral joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and blood vessels. Rheumatoid is more common in women than men.

It affects 1% of the population worldwide. (Khana, Arnold, Pencharz, et al., 2006) According to World Health Report last 2002, Rheumatoid Arthritis is the 31st leading cause of years lived with disability at global level, accounting for 0.8% of total global years lived with disability.

Rheumatoid arthritis has mild and moderate forms. There are also periods of exacerbations and remissions. For these reasons, it is important to receive early and immediate treatment for this inflammatory and systemic disease.

Risk Factors

The real cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown. However, genetics play an important role in development of rheumatoid arthritis. Infection (viral or bacterial) triggers the body’s immune response which over time becomes automatic response. On the other hand, abnormal immune activation may also trigger rheumatoid arthritis by causing inflammation, complement activation, and cell proliferation within the joints and tendons sheaths.

Clinical Manifestations

  • Morning stiffness
  • Spindle-shaped fingers
  • Joint pain
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Warmth and inflammation
  • Loss of function
  • Rheumatoid nodules
  • Swan-neck or boutonniere deformity

Laboratory and Diagnostic Findings

  • Positive Rheumatoid Factor titer
  • Increased sedimentation rate level
  • Positive C-reactive protein & antinuclear antibody
  • Elevated white blood cell count
  • Decreased red blood cell and C4 complement
  • Radiographic Changes

Rheumatoid Arthritis Nursing Care Plan

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Rina Malones is currently working as a critical care/acute stroke nurse. Besides from blogging, she's also studying International Health at University of the Philippines Open University.