Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, disabling auto-immune disease. It is characterised by inflammation in the peripheral joints, which causes swelling, stiffness, pain and progressive joint destruction. However, RA is also a multisystem disorder that affects other areas of the body including the eyes, lungs and cardiovascular system. The estimated prevalence of RA in adults in England is 1.4%, equating to around 580,000 people (National Audit Office 2009). RA affects three times as many women as men and has a peak age of onset of 40–70 years. Life expectancy in patients with RA is reduced: a 50-year-old woman with RA is expected to die 4 years earlier than a 50-year-old woman without RA. Early diagnosis, timely referral and holistic management of the condition are the keys to optimising outcomes.
This resource, consisting of five assessment questions at intermediate level, tests your knowledge of the diagnosis and management of RA based on national guidance. Complete the resource, including the further reading and some or all of the suggested activities, to obtain a certificate for one hour of continuing professional development to include in your annual portfolio.
Aims and objectives
On completion of this resource, you should have an understanding of:
Arthritis Research UK. The approach to the patient presenting with multiple joint pain, 2012 https://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/health-professionals-and-students/reports/hands-on/hands-on-autumn-2012.aspx
NICE CG79. Rheumatoid arthritis: The management of rheumatoid arthritis in adults, 2009
Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network (RASN)
Practice Nurse featured articles
Further education and training
Relevant courses from Education for Health
Assessing and managing joint problems in primary care: the knee – interactive study day
Assessing and managing patients with joint pain – eLearning (supported by 2 study days)
Date of preparation: September 2014
Review date: September 2015