Gastrointestinal and Musculoskeletal Assessment

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Part 1

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Gastrointestinal and Musculoskeletal Assessment


Make a comprehensive list of relevant information to gather when assessing abdominal pain

When assessing abdominal pain, patients should be asked about the severity, onset, quality, and duration of pain as well as worsening and relieving factors. . Information on the location of the pain is useful at the start of the interview as it guides in further evaluations (Hall, 2017). Also, information about associated signs and symptoms should be gathered as it helps in predicting certain causes of abdominal pain. Information on the pain’s radiation and movement should also be gathered to help rule out some conditions. For example, abdominal pain that is associated with appendicitis usually moves from the periumbilical area of the abdomen to the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. Patients should also be asked whether they have been taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs recently.

How do you assess for masses in the abdomen and how you would document such findings?

The sequence of assessing a patient’s abdomen is inspection, auscultation, percussion, and palpation the sequence should be followed during assessment since changing the order could lead to altering bowel sounds frequency. The patient should empty his or her bladder and lie supine with his or her abdomen exposed. The first step should be to observe the abdomen from the xiphoid process to the symphysis pubis and from the side and from above and assess for any visible mass (Hall, 2017). All the four quadrants of the abdomen should then be lightly percussed and large dull areas may indicate mass or tumor. If the assessment is normal then it would be documented as Abdomen is soft, symmetric, and non-tender without distention.

Describe your findings on a previous patient that you have encountered where you have palpated a mass in the abdomen

I once encountered a patient who complained of abdominal pain. Upon abdominal assessment, a mass was palpated in her abdomen. The patient had visible bulging in her abdomen. During light percussion, dull sounds were heard over solid abdominal structures like the liver and air-filled areas like the stomach-produced tympany. A large dull area was present in the right upper quadrant, and this indicated a mass or a tumor.


Define, Compare, and Contrast the following conditions: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term immune disorder, and it mainly affects joints (Firestein & McInnes, 2017). It is characterized by warm, painful, stiff, and swollen joints. Pain and stiffness aggravate after a rest and the condition mainly affects the joints in the wrists and the hands and its effects are experienced bilaterally. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common form of arthritis that occurs when flexible tissues at the end of bones wear down over time. The wearing-down process occurs gradually and gets worse with time. OA is characterized by joint pain in the lower back, hands, hips, knees, and neck.

OA and RA have basic symptoms such as stiff and painful joints, warmth and tenderness, and increased intensity of symptoms in the morning. RA and OA are also similar in that they are common in women than in men (Roth, 2020).

The main difference between RA and OA is their causation. While RA is an immune disorder that causes fluid to accumulate within joints causing swelling, pain, stiffness, and inflammation, OA is a degenerative joint disorder where the cartilage that cushion joints break down causing bones to rub each other hence exposing small veins and causing pain (Roth, 2020). Also, RA and OA differ in that OA is more prevalent in old adults while RA can develop at any age and RA is a systemic disease that can affect the entire body causing symptoms such as muscle aches, fever, excess fatigue, and lumps underneath the skin near joints if the condition is advanced while the symptoms of OA are restricted to joints.


Firestein, G. S., & McInnes, I. B. (2017). Immunopathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. Immunity46(2), 183-196.

Hall, C. (2017). Back to basics: Abdominal assessments. Australian Midwifery News17(2), 17.


Roth, E. (2020, August 6). Is it rheumatoid arthritis? The differences between RA and OA. Healthline. Retrieved September 13, 2021, from