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Arthritis for the Correctional Nurse

Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis are both debilitating diseases that affect millions of individuals in the United States.  In the correctional environment, the latest statistics by the Bureau of Justice indicate that “Arthritis” is the third largest chronic diagnosis for jail detainees and is the second largest chronic diagnosis for individuals incarcerated in prisons.  While Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis are often thought of as the same (“arthritis”), they are different diseases with different etiologies and somewhat different treatments.  Osteoarthritis is associated with aging and trauma over time, and is a progressive disease.  Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic, progressive and erosive disease characterized by recurrent inflammation of the connective tissue, primarily in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the organs of the body, such as the heart, lungs and endothelial cells of the vascular system. A cardinal sign of Rheumatoid Arthritis is the symmetry of the affect on the body; that is, while osteoarthritis may affect just one side of the body, Rheumatoid Arthritis most often will affect the left and the right sides the same. 

In this class, we will discuss the pathophysiology of Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, the medications typically used for these diseases, and the nursing evaluation of the patient with Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  We will also review patient education for the patient with Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.