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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Systemic Lupus

By Brianne O’Neill And Lynn Bates


• # 1: Arthritis isn’t serious

• #2: Arthritis is an old person’s disease
• #3:Arthritis is a normal part of aging
• #4: Not much can be done for those living with arthritis
• #5: People with arthritis can’t exercise

(Arthritis Foundation, 2012)

What are joints?
•Joint pain is an early symptom of Arthritis
•The joint is the area where bones meet!
•Synovial joints are responsible for movement

The joint is the area most commonly targeted by inflammation

(American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2012; Day et al., 2010)
Anatomy of the Joint

Articular/hyaline cartilage
-acts as a shock absorber
- allows for friction-free movement
- not innervated!
Synovial membrane/synovium
-secretes synovial fluid
-nourishes cartilage
-cushions the bones (Day et al., 2010; Cartilage Health, 2008)
Rheumatoid Arthritis
“A chronic autoimmune disease characterized by the inflammation of the synovial joints”

Has a symmetrical bilateral effect on joints

Results in joint deformity and immobilization

Multiple factors increase one’s risk

(The Arthritis Society, 2012; Gulanick & Myers, 2011; Firth, 2011)
•Morning stiffness lasting
more than half an hour
•Simultaneous symmetrical
joint swelling
•Not relieved by rest
•Weight loss
•Lymph node enlargement
•Raynaud’s phenomenon
(The Arthritis Society, 2012; Firth, 2011; Oliver, 2010; Day et al., 2010)

(Arthritis Foundation, 2012; Day et al., 2010; American College of Rheumatology, 2009)
No single test is specific to Rheumatoid Arthritis

• Radiographs of involved joints
• CT/MRI scans
• Direct arthroscopy
• Synovial/Fluid aspirate
• Synovial membrane biopsy
• Arthrocentesis

(National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2012)

Inflammatory Markers: ESR and

The level of CRP in the blood is normally low

Increasing amount
suggests inflammation

ESR rates for men: 0-15mm/hr

ESR rates for women: 0-20mm/hr

(Day et al., 2010)

Antibody Tests:
Rheumatoid Factor Test and CCP
Other blood tests check for the presence of
antibodies that are not normally present in
the human body

(National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, 2012; Day et al., 2010)

Direct arthroscopy

•Minimally invasive
•Less tissue damage
•Fewer complications
•Reduced pain
•Quicker recovery time
•Outpatient basis
(American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2012; Day et al., 2010)
Synovial/Fluid aspirate
Synovial membrane biopsy
Athrocentesis: synovial fluid is aspirated and analysed for inflammatory components

Abnormal synovial fluid: cloudy, milky, or dark yellow containing leukocytes

(Day et al., 2010)


X-rays are an important diagnostic test for monitoring the disease progression

Patients may reveal NO changes on an X-ray in the early stages

(Gulanick & Myers, 2011; Day et al., 2010)

A radiopaque substance or air is injected
into the joint, which outlines soft tissue
structures surrounding the joint (Day et al, 2010)

CT/MRI scans
Used for better visualization of soft tissue

MRI is particularly sensitive for the early and subtle features of RA

Can detect changes of Rheumatoid Arthritis prior to an X-Ray

(Radiopaedia, 2010; Dat et al., 2010)

Newly Diagnosed
The major goal is to relieve pain and inflammation and prevent further joint damage

Anxiety, depression, and a

low self esteem commonly
accompanies Rheumatoid
(Walker, 2012; Gulanick & Myers, 2011; The Arthritis Society, 2011; Firth, 2011)

• There are four types of medications used to treat

– Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
– Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic
– Corticosteroids
– Biologic Response Modifiers (“Bioligics”)

(Arthritis Foundation, 2012; Gulanick & Myers 2011)

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Examples General Use Side Effects Nursing
Aspirin, ibuprofen, • anti- •Nausea •Use cautiously in
naproxen, COX-2 inflammatory: •Vomiting patients with hx of
inhibitors, propionic Used in the •Diarrhea bleeding disorders
acid, phenylacetic acid management •Constipation •Encourage pt to
inflammatory •Dizziness avoid concurrent
conditions •Drowsiness use of alcohol
•Antipyretic: •Edema •NSAIDs may
used to control •Kidney failure decrease response
fever •Liver failure to diuretics or
•Analgesic: •Prolonged antihypertensive
Control mild to bleeding therapy
moderate pain •Ulcers

(The Arthritis Society, 2011; Day et al., 2010)

Examples General Use Side Effects Nursing
Cortisone, • Used in the •Increased •Take medications
hydrocortisone, management appetite as directed
prednisone, inflammatory •Weight gain (adrenal
betamethasone,dexa- conditions •Water/salt suppression)
methasone •When NSAIDS retention •Used with caution
may be •Increased blood in diabetic patients
contraindicate pressure •Encourage diet
d •Thinning of skin high in protein,
•Promptly •Depression calcium, potassium
improve •Mood swings and low in sodium
symptoms of •Muscle weakness and carbohydrates
RA •Osteoporosis •Discuss body
•Delayed wound image
healing •Discuss risk for
•Onset/worsening infection
of diabetes

(The Arthritis Society, 2011; Day et al., 2010)

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs(DMARDS)
Examples General Use Side Effects Nursing
Methotrexate •immunosuppressive •Dizziness, •May take several
(the gold activity drowsiness, weeks to months
standard) •Reduce headache before they
, gold salts, inflammation of •Pulmonary fibrosis become effective
cyclosporine, rheumatoid arthritis •Pneumonitis •Discuss
sulfasalazine, •Slows down joint •Anorexia teratogenicity,
azathioprine destruction •Nausea should be taken off
•Preserves joint •Hepatotoxicity drug several
function •Stomatitis months prior to
•Infertility conception
•Alopecia •Discuss body
•Skin ulceration image
•Aplastic anemia

(The Arthritis Society, 2011; Day et al., 2010)

Biologic Response Modifiers (“Bioligics”)
Examples General Use Side Effects Nursing
Etanercept, anakinra, • Used in the •Increased appetite •Take medications
abatacipt, management •Weight gain as directed (adrenal
adalimumab, inflammatory •Water/salt suppression)
Infliximab (Remicade) conditions retention •Encourage diet
•When NSAIDS •Increased blood high in protein,
may be pressure calcium, potassium
contraindicated •Thinning of skin and low in sodium
•Promptly •Depression and carbohydrates
improve •Mood swings •Discuss body
symptoms of RA •Muscle weakness image
•Osteoporosis •Discuss risk for
•Delayed wound infection
of diabetes

(The Arthritis Society, 2011; Day et al., 2010)

Alternative Medicine
Olive leaf extract

Aloe Vera

Green Tea

Omega 3

Ginger Root Extract

Cats Claw

Omega 3 interferes with blood clotting drugs!

(American College of Rheumatology, 2012)

Pain is subjective and influenced by multiple factors

Lack of

Stressful events can increase symptoms of arthritis

Consider drugs such as Paxil, Elavil or Zoloft

(Day et al., 2010; Canadian Psychological Association, 2009)

Being overweight strains joints and leads to further inflammation

4 times a week for
•Light jogging
30 minutes •Water aerobics
•Tai chi

(Arthritis Foundation, 2012)

The most commonly observed vitamin and
mineral deficiencies in patients with RA are:
o folic acid
o vitamin C
o vitamin D
o vitamin B6
o vitamin B12
o vitamin E
o calcium
o magnesium
o zinc
o selenium
(Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, 2012)
•Increases function of the joint
•Decreases pain and inflammation
•Beneficial as an early treatment option
•Not a cure!

(Day et al., 2010; Sung-Jae, 2007)

• Support injured joints and weak muscles
• Improve joint mobility and stability
• Help to alleviate pain, swelling and muscle spasm
• May prevent further damage and deformity

(Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, 2012)


Most common form of arthritis

Over 3 million Canadians affected (1/10)

Osteoarthritis is defined as “a
degenerative joint disease characterized
by destruction of the articular cartilage
and overgrowth of bone”

(Arthritis Society, 2011; Day et al., 2010)


Normal Joint: Cartilage covers the end of bones to act as

a shock absorber and to promote smooth movement of
the joint.

Osteoarthritis: Cartilage wears down over time. Patients

may experience a painful bone-on-bone articulation.

(Arthritis Society, 2011)

(Day et al., 2010; Mosby, 2009
Primary & Secondary Osteoarthritis

Primary Osteoarthritis – no
identifiable reason for
arthritis development.

Secondary Osteoarthritis –
a likely cause for
osteoarthritis exists (e.g.
joint injury among
professional athletes).
(Arthritis Society, 2011)
Risk Factors for OA

• Age
• Family History
• Excess weight
• Joint injury
• Complications of other
types of arthritis

MYTH – Normal wear and tear

(Arthritis Society, 2011; Day et al., 2010)
Signs & Symptoms of OA

• Joint pain

• Feeling joints “locking”

• Joint “creaking”

• Stiff joints in the morning

• Joint swelling

• Loss of joint flexibility or strength

(Arthritis Society, 2011)

A Complicated Process
(Day et al., 2010; National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases, 2010).

Clinical history
Physical Assessment
Joint Aspirate
• Exercise
• Weight loss
• Heat & Cold Therapy
• Activity pacing
• Maintaining proper joint alignment
• Use of assistive devices
• Relaxation Exercises

(Day et al., 2010; Arthritis Society, 2011; Walker, 2011)


• Acetaminophen
• Opioids
• Corticosteroid injections
• Topical analgesics
• Glucosamine and chondroitin
(Day et al., 2010; Arthritis Society, 2011)
Surgical Management

• Osteotomy

• Arthrodesis

• Arthroplasty

– Total knee

– Total hip
(Day et al, 2010)
“The surgical cutting of a bone”

One of the most common

surgeries for osteoarthritis

Displacement osteotomy: a
bone is “redesigned surgically
to alter the alignment or
weight-bearing stress areas”

(Day et al., 2010; Mosby, 2009)

•Fusion of bones in a
•Bones are held
together by plates,
screws, pins, wires,
or rods
•New bone begins to
•Limited joint motion
•Pain reduction

(Day et al., 2010; Eustice, 2008)


For partial or total

replacement of a

(Day et al., 2010)

Nursing Considerations
Total Knee Replacement
• Compression bandage & ice may
be applied
•Active ROM of the foot q1h while
patient is awake.
•Wound suction drain – 200-400
mL in first 24 hours is considered
•Continuous passive motion (CPM)
device may be used
•Nurse assists patients in
ambulating evening of or day after
•Elevate knee while patient sits
(Day et al., 2010)
Total Hip Replacement

Hip replacements involve replacement of a

damaged hip with an artificial acetabulum and
femoral component.

Often performed for patients with osteoarthritis

or rheumatoid arthritis, femoral neck
fractures, and problems related to congenital
hip disease. (Day et al., 2010)
Nursing Considerations
Total Hip Replacement
• Hip precautions
• Monitor for dislodgement
• Abduct leg
• Keep HOB less than 60 degrees
• Use of fracture bedpan
• High-seat surfaces
• Sleep on unaffected side
• Avoid crossing legs
• No bending at the waist
(Day et al., 2010)
Pre-op Care

• Educating Patient
• Discharge planning
• Evaluating patient risks

(Walker, 2012)
Post-op Care
• Monitor VS
• Wound assessments
• Neurovascular assessments
• Monitor wound drainage
• Pain relief
• Infection/Osteomyelitis prevention
• Promote early ambulation
• Ensure physiotherapy is consulted

(Walker, 2012; Day et al., 2010)


• A chronic disease, affecting

over 1/1000 Canadians

• Affects 8x as many women

• Auto-immune

• Cause is unclear – potential

hormonal or genetic link

• When properly treated, most

individuals can survive for a
normal lifespan
(Lupus Society of Canada, 2012)
Types of Lupus
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
(SLE) : The most common
type of lupus. Any tissue in
the body may be affected
including the kidneys, heart,
lungs, and brain.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE): Affects the skin; skin

develops lesions and scales.

Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus : May be chronic or acute.

This type may only involve the skin or progress to involve
other body systems.

(Lupus Society of Canada, 2012; Mosby, 2009)

(Lupus Society of Canada, 2012)
Manifestations of SLE

(Mosby, 2009; Lupus Society of Canada, 2012)

Pharmacological Therapy

Cytotoxic or Immunosuppressive drugs
Antimalarial drugs (Lupus Society of Canada, 2012; Arthritis
Society, 2010; Day et al, 2010)
Healthy Lifestyle
(Arthritis Society, 2010)
Nursing Considerations
• Educate patient on lupus.
• Help patient identify factors that
precipitate flare-ups.
• Assess patient’s medication
• Provide adequate symptom
• MedicAlert bracelet
• Provide emotional and psychological
support.. A big one!

(Mosby, 2009; Lupus Society of Canada, 2007)

Case Study
Mrs. Sour Hip is a 66 year old female who has suffered
from lupus for the past 30 years. Mrs. Sour Hip
experiences many joint-related lupus symptoms,
particularly in her right hip. She will be undergoing a
right hip replacement surgery next week. Her
medical history includes systemic lupus
erythematosus, HTN, a. fib, pneumonia in winter
2010, and a history of pernicious anemia for which
she receives Vitamin B12 s/c q2months. Her
medications include long-term corticosteroid therapy
to help manage her lupus.
Questions? 
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2012) . Arthritis. Retrieved from
Arthritis Foundation. (2012). Common Myths. Retrieved from
Arthritis Society. (2010). Lupus. Retrieved from
Arthritis Society. (2011). Osteoarthritis: Know Your Options. Retrieved from
Arthritis Society. (2012). About Arthritis. Retrieved from
Canadian Arthritis Network. (2007). Arthritis Facts and Figures. Retrieved from
Cartilage Health. (2008). What is articular cartilage? Retrieved from
Canadian Psychological Association. (2012). Arthritis. Retrieved From
Day, R. A., Paul, P., Williams, B., Smeltzer, S. & Bare, B. (2007). Canadian textbook of
medical surgical Nursing (1st Canadian Ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams &
Firth, J. (2011). Rheumatoid arthritis: diagnosis and multidisciplinary management.
Nursing, 20(18), 1179-80.
References cont.
Firth, J. (2011). Rheumatoid arthritis: diagnosis and multidisciplinary management.
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Gulanick, M. & Myers, J. (2011). Nursing Care Plans: Diagnoses, Interventions, and Outcomes (7th ed.). St.Louis,
MO: Elsevier Mosby.
John Hopkins Arthritis Center. (2012). Nutrition and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Retrieved from
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Lupus Society of Canada. (2012). Living with Lupus: Lupus Overview. Retrieved from
Mosby. (2009). Mosby’s Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, & Health Professions (8th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Author.
Myers, J., Gulanick, M. (2011). Nursing Care Plans (7th ed.). Elsevier
National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases. (2010). Handout on Health: Osteoarthritis.
Retrieved from
Oliver, S. (2011). The role of the clinical nurse specialist in the assessment and management of biologic
therapies. Musculoskeletal Care Journal. 9, 54-62.
Sung-Jae, K., Kwang-Am, J. (2007). Arthroscopic Synovectomy in Rheumatoid Arthritis of Wrist. Clinical Medical
Research, 5(4), 244-250.
Walker, J. (2012). Care of patients undergoing joint replacements, Nursing Older People, 24(1), 14-20.
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