6 Important Facts About Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Arthritis is the nation’s number one cause of disability and affects both adults and children. One in five adults over the age of 18 are diagnosed with arthritis, and one in 250 children suffers from arthritis or some type of rheumatic condition. It’s expected that by 2030, over 65 million people will suffer from this disease.

The economic impact of arthritis is considerable. Employees who suffer from osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) miss over 170 million workdays each year—more than any other medical condition. Approximately one-third of people who are of working age and suffer from OA are limited in their work ability, the type of work they’re able to perform, and ability to work full time. Those people age 18 – 64 are less likely to hold a job if they suffer from OA than those without arthritis. OA and other rheumatic conditions are responsible for:   

  • Close to 1 million people requiring hospitalization
  • Over 40 million outpatient visits
  • Over $150 billion in medical costs and lost wages each year
  • Over 600,000 health care visits by children 

If you suffer from OA or RA, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. (SSA). The SSA provides criteria to qualify for benefits in its “Blue Book” Listing of Impairments. While you may be eligible for disability, you may want a legal expert to help with your claim. 

Surprising Facts about OA and RA

Many people believe that OA is a condition that “old people” or seniors suffer. This is just one myth along with many others that make the list of surprising facts about OA and RA. Here is a brief look at 6 little known facts about both types of arthritis:

  1. Arthritis isn’t an “old age” disease. Infants can suffer from systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)—a rare and potentially serious disease that can cause a rash, high fevers, and joint aches. Additionally, two-thirds of the people who suffer from arthritis are under 65. Because this condition is associated with degenerative joints and cartilage, many people with OA are older; however, people of all age groups and gender can suffer from this condition. RA affects approximately 1.3 million people, including children and adolescents.
  2. A good diet won’t prevent OA. While diet and nutrition play an important role in overall health, OA can’t be prevented by eating well and sticking to a healthy diet. Joint problems such as gout may be affected by food, but there’s no connection between a good diet and OA. The main determining factors about whether you’ll suffer from OA are heredity and the degeneration of your cartilage and joints.
  3. If you have OA, you can still be physically active. While it’s true that OA may cause painful aching in your joints, it doesn’t have to be debilitating. OA isn’t a life sentence spent depending on your family and friends for help and support. Many people who suffer from OA live active, productive lives.
  4. Smoking is a trigger for RA. Smoking increases the risk of suffering RA, but researchers don’t know why. Statistics show that there’s a definite link between the two—a higher rate of RA in those who smoke compared to those who don’t. It’s believed that certain genes in the body may interact with cigarette smoke to make a person more sensitive to this condition.
  5. A cold climate doesn’t cause OA. Many people believe that living in a cold climate can bring about OA. However, there is no association between the weather and if you’ll suffer from this condition. While it’s true that some studies show a cold environment may increase the pain caused by OA, weather conditions do not cause this disease. Those living in warm and hot climates such as the southern states in the U.S. and Middle Eastern countries experience arthritis.
  6. RA can’t be cured, but it can be managed. While there’s currently no cure for RA, it can be managed with many available effective treatments that help reduce possible serious consequences. Additionally, ongoing genetic research is helping to establish which type of treatments are best for certain patients. 

If you suffer from OA or RA and are unable to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Or if you’ve applied and were denied benefits, call Cuddigan Law at 402 933-5405. We’ll schedule an appointment to discuss your eligibility for compensation.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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