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Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Lead to Disability

Posted by Louis B. Lusk | Jul 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Lead to Disability

Your joints start to swell and you are in pain. You get checked out and find out you have rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis “is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints of the hands and feet. [It] affects the lining of joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.” Symptoms and Causes Those with rheumatoid arthritis may have: Tender, warm, swollen joints; Morning stiffness that may last for hours; Firm bumps of tissue under the skin of the arms (rheumatoid nodules); and/or Fatigue, fever and weight loss. Information from the Mayo Clinic The disease commonly begins in the smaller joints. “As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders.” As the rheumatoid arthritis progresses, swelling causes “joints to deform and shift out of place.” All of these symptoms occur when a person's “immune system attacks the … lining of the membranes that surround joints.” Doctors and researchers studying rheumatoid arthritis have not found a specific cause for the disease. There appears to be a genetic component, but that does not mean a person with or will not develop RA. There are studies suggesting that smoking increases the risk of developing RA. Diagnosis A doctor will take a complete medical history and perform a physical exam of each joint looking for RA inflammation. It is also common to run some blood tests to look for a variety of items like: C-reactive protein – this indicates the level of inflammation in the body. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate – a higher ESR or “sed rate” means more severe RA symptoms. Rheumatoid factor – this is produced when the immune system attacks the body. Cyclic citrullinated peptide – those with RA have high levels of citrulline in their and CCP attacks that substance. Antinuclear antibody – when individuals start to experience symptoms of RA, this test is used to rule out other autoimmune diseases. Information from Treatments RA is commonly treated with NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Corticosteroids are prescribed to “reduce inflammation and pain and slow joint damage.” There are disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) that “can slow the progression of RA and save the joints and other tissues form permanent damage.” Sometimes doctors use immunosuppressants to suppress the immune system that is attacking the joints. Then there are tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors that reduce an inflammatory substance produced by the body which in turn reduces pain, stiffness, and swelling. Doctors can also recommend changes in diet, such as limiting saturated fats, which increase inflammation. Other helpful treatments include warm moist compresses on swollen joints, relaxation methods and acupuncture. Exercise has also been shown to reduce pain and stiffness. Social Security assessment The Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews medical records to determine how much a person is limited due to RA. This includes reviewing blood tests and x-rays to assess the diseases progression. They look at the how limited a person is in walking and getting around, as well as limits to their fine motor skills, like grasping pens and utensils. If you are having problems getting around or performing basic everyday activities due to RA, you may be entitle to Social Security Disability to assist you. Contact our knowledgeable attorneys to help you with your SSD application. See Related Posts: Opening Mental Health Care to More Individuals Epilepsy and Social Security Disability Cystic Fibrosis and Social Security Disability

About the Author

Louis B. Lusk

About Louis B. Lusk – Disability Attorney Attorney Louis B. Lusk has helped thousands of disabled individuals recover Social Security disability and SSI disability benefits.  He is an active member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant's Representatives (NOSSCR), an organizat...


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If you have been turned down for Social Security disability call me at 1 (800) 407-1516. I look forward to hearing from you.