Rheumatoid Arthritis Care
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which means that the body’s immune system attacks its own cells and tissues. This causes inflammation in and around the joints, which can damage the skeletal system.
Studies have shown that the damage to the joints usually occurs within two years. Chronic pain, irreversible damage to joints and long-term disability will occur without early diagnosis and treatment.
Some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are pain, stiffness, inflammation, decreased movement, bumps over small joints and difficulty performing activities of daily living, including buttoning shirts, tying shoelaces or opening jars.
Rheumatoid arthritis care plan
A rheumatoid arthritis care plan helps to manage the symptoms of the disease and slow its progression. Common issues a care plan should address include pain, sleep disturbances, fatigue, altered mood and decreased mobility. Patients newly diagnosed with RA need information to help them cope with this chronic disease and make daily self-management decisions.
As the disease progresses, self-care becomes increasingly difficult but independence needs to be maintained as far as possible. This may include such steps as providing eating utensils and hairbrushes with larger grips to help patients to feed themselves and brush their hair as well as buttonhooks to help them dress themselves.
Fatigue is a common symptom of RA and patients need to be encouraged to rest in order to reduce active inflammation. At the same time, they need to be encouraged to do some daily exercise.
Physical and occupational therapy may form part of a care plan and therapists may suggest new ways to do daily tasks that make it easier on the joints.
Pain management is very important as rheumatoid arthritis patients consider acute and chronic pain to be one of the most debilitating symptoms.
Addressing pain may include offering pillow supports, using warm compresses to loosen stiff joints and cold compresses to numb pain and reduce swelling,
Medication needs to be ministered appropriately to manage chronic and breakthrough pain. Over-the-counter NSAIDs, like Ibuprofen, are usually used to control mild to moderate pain and inflammation. Stronger NSAIDs are available on prescription.
Exercise is important for RA patients because it can improve mobility, strength, mechanics and function. Daily exercise helps to loosen stiff joints and activity needs to be encouraged as tolerated. Taking a short daily walk or gentle chair aerobics may be beneficial. Exercise should not be done if joints are tender or severely inflamed.
Nutrition and lifestyle
Lifestyle modifications include healthy eating to reduce inflammation in the body and maintaining a healthy weight to further reduce pressure on the joints.
When patients are in pain, they may seek to dull it by smoking, drinking or turning to comfort foods. Nutrition and lifestyle education can help patients to make healthy diet choices and avoid using unhealthy crutches.
Fairview Rehab & Nursing Home
Fairview Rehab & Nursing Home in Queens, NY, offers outstanding nursing care for those with rheumatoid arthritis. At Fairview they will feel more in control of their disease, connect with others, and receive all the necessary care and support to handle their symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.