Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis Nursing | Symptoms, Pathophysiology, Treatment Mnemonic NCLEX


Osteoarthritis vs. rheumatoid arthritis (OA vs. RA) nursing lecture about the symptoms, pathophysiology, treatment, and nursing interventions for the NCLEX exam.

Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are both forms of arthritis that affect the joints but in different ways.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that develops due to the deterioration of the articular cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation of the synovium within the joint space. In severe cases of RA, the patient can experience bone fusion (ankylosis).

Osteoarthritis vs rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include:

OA: crepitus, bony outgrowths (Heberden and Bouchard’s Nodes which are found on the hands..see pictures in video), joints will feel hard, bony, morning stiffness LESS than 30 minutes, only affects joints (not other systems of the body), and is unsymmetrical.

RA: morning stiffness GREATER than 30 minutes, soft, warm, swollen joints, affects joints symmetrically and other systems of the body (fever, anemia, heart, lungs etc.)

Treatment for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis include: NSAIDs, tylenol, physical exercise (low-impact exercises, range of motion, wearing-bearing), assistive devices, heat and cold therapy, corticosteriods (oral for RA and intra-arthritic injections in OA).

In severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) may be used, and these medications suppress the immune system from attacking the joint along with helping slow down the destruction of the disease on the joints and bones.

Quiz on OA vs RA:


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  1. Hello Everyone 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to watch this video. Don't forget to: watch the other videos in this musculoskeletal series, take the quiz, and follow me on social media 😉
    Quiz: http://www.registerednursern.com/osteoarthritis-vs-rheumatoid-arthritis-nclex-questions/
    Notes: http://www.registerednursern.com/osteoarthritis-vs-rheumatoid-arthritis-nclex-review/
    Musculoskeletal Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQrdx7rRsKfWRievEbu0WNalx82TmZtcI
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  2. You are my go to as a nursing student! You explain everything so well and I relate so well with the way you remember things.

  3. Thank you so much for your time and effort you put into RegisteredNurseRN. You helped me get through Paramedic school and now you are helping me with RN school. I like how you do the compare and contrast that really helps me to understand the different diseases. Thank you again. Congratulations on the baby news! So exciting.

  4. I always play ur videos in my car while driving home from clinic. I am doctor from india.. thank you so much. love for entire team

  5. Sarah thank you ! I am happy to watch your videos ! Easily understand ! I am a graduate of Batch 1993 but you excite me to learn and study again to become USRN ! I can't thank you enough ! Your my angel God Bless You !

  6. Nurse Sarah, I can't tell you enough how helpful you are in helping to understand the disease process. You're an excellent teacher. Also, I love how you always have helpful mnemonics to remember key points. Thank you so much.

  7. I have RA and I was diagnosed when I was 12 I'm 18 now. It's the worst pain ever. I play sports too so it inflames it constantly.

  8. Thanks once again for this comparison video between OA and RA. I liked the shorter video without compromising content! I'm not a nurse but as a medical coder I really need to understand patho for my job as we're coding based on physician documentation. Please keep making them!

  9. I've been a vegan for about a year a vegetarian since 1980 walk a half a mile a day and now I find out that I have severe degenerative arthritis in my neck and that the bones are thin fused and an MRI is next what do I do besides look forward to a neck cage?!

  10. Your videos are awesome! ! You always break everything down where it's understandable without being overwhelming! Thank you!

  11. Super duper helpful and informative. You should be a nursing school instructor, but we all appreciate your online content! Thank you for sharing the knowledge!

  12. Today i found ou that i passed the NCLEX RN first time taker and your videos help a lot specially RA vs OA because it came out on my exam and i quickly differentiated them right away and what nsg interventions i should do. So God bless you always and i thank you so much. Keep up the good work.

  13. Hi, I have a final this week on everything! Your videos help me so so much, they are my go to guide. I really understand the way you break everything down. I just want to thank you so much because I know when I do not understand something, I can always count on one of your videos to help me! I have told everyone in my nursing class about you and they are now also watching your videos. Please never stop what you are doing.

  14. Your videos are the reason I passed my first med surg test!! We are learning orthopedics right now (types of fractures, common fractures and amputation) We have a test next week and I know it's impossible but I thought I would suggest a video on that! My teachers notes are confusing and all over the place and it would help a lot if you could 🙂 thanks for all your videos!!

  15. Hi Sarah! I was wondering if you could make a video on lab values for NCLEX? I love your videos and I think it would be really helpful for some of us who can't quite remember those numbers! Thanks! 🙂

  16. Hello everyone, I'm a student of nursing 2nd year and i want to get job in usa and i want to take n-clex to can you help me with this . How I've to prepare myself to fight this exam.

  17. I want to thank you for your awesome videos. Because of your great work, I found out yesterday that I passed the Nclex which I took last week. I graduated two years ago from nursing school, and wasn't able to take the exam earlier due to family crisis. Yet, I was determined to become a nurse. So I started watching your videos 6 months prior, and also used the Saunders review along with your videos. I love the breakdowns, mnemonics, and skill samples you give in all your videos. Please do not stop teaching; it's your calling. Thank you again.

  18. Thank you so much for your VERY HELPFUL videos you are definitely part of the success for every Nurses & other health workers. God Bless.!!!!


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