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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Although Rheumatoid Arthritis affects only 1% of Americans, it comes out to be that about 2.1 million people are suffering from this chronic disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation. This is a problem many people struggle to live with, and we understand this. We are very well aware of the complications it creates, and how difficult it can be to do almost anything, so we encourage you to read this article if you or someone you know has this condition.

The Arthritis Foundation states that Rheumatoid Arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the synovium, or lining, of the joints. This disease spreads in 3 stages, first, in the lining of the joints, which will cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected area. Then, it quickly divides and grows cells, which will make the joint lining become much thicker. Lastly, the cells deteriorate the bone and/or cartilage, and cause the affected joint to lose its shape, which in turn causes more pain, and a loss of ability to move the affected area.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is in the middle of a debate right now with medical researchers, because some are beginning to claim that the reason there is no known cause for it, is because there simply isn’t a cause for it. Speculation that it is a combination of several different diseases is up in there as of now, but there is enough evidence to show that the immune system is involved with a cause for it somehow. This is because when a patient has RA, the immune system mistakes its own body tissue for foreign objects, such as germs, like a normal immune system would attack. Because it attacks healthy tissue, the body becomes weakened in a given area.

Also important to know is that women are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop RA than men. Interestingly, the RA often goes away when they become pregnant, but after the baby is born it will resurface. Doctors say that this is a reason to believe that gender might play in the role in the development of RA, but they also consider genetics as well. A certain gene is known to be found in 20% of the population, but in about two-thirds of Caucasians with RA.

The symptoms for RA usually begin in the hands, fingers, or wrists, but it can start anywhere on the body. They include fatigue, stiffness, pain from sitting for a long time, muscle pain, a loss of appetite, depression, and/or weight loss. If not treated, the RA may distort cartilage, tendons or ligaments, which is likely to worsen the condition. Although RA can occur in anyone at any age, the most likely age group is between 30 to 50 years old.

Diagnosing RA can be complicated for doctors. They need to take a look at your medical history, scan you for X-rays, and give you a physical exam. Taking a look at your medical history will help your doctor tremendously in a diagnosis, and the physical exam you will most likely take will also help show your condition’s affect on your body. Doing this will help you get the most accurate care you can receive.

It’s very important that you are honest about yourself with your doctor, because the treatment of RA is highly specified to the individual. The onslaught of this disease varies in almost everyone who has it, and the treatment you might need will likely be different in some way or another with a separate patient. It is recommended that you see a rheumatologist, as they would know the most about the condition, and may be able to help you more closely. In the end, you will either be prescribed certain drugs, or prednisone, which is a type of lotion that reduces the pain and swelling.

Social Security defines “work” as an eight hour a day, five-day week endeavor. As in most Social Security Disability claims, the judge’s decision really boils down to whether or not he or she believes that you can perform the basic functions of work (sitting, standing, walking, lifting, concentrating, interacting appropriately with people encountered in the workplace, etc.). The fact that a claimant can only perform these basic functions sporadically, but not consistently, is the basis for the large majority of successful Social Security Disability claims. A claimant with diabetes can refer to many aspects of their illness to show that they would not be able to meet the basic demands of even nonphysical, low stress jobs.

We want you to understand that the best way to combat this disease is to get an early diagnosis. Certainly, we hope this article has helped in a number of ways for you, but take into account that this likely doesn’t have all of your questions answered. If you need to ask us something about this article, this disease, or anything else, please feel free to contact our office. We know how stressful it can be to have this condition, which is why we are offering to help you if you believe you deserve benefits, because most of the time, the people who call us become our clients.

Some suggested articles for further reading:

  1. http://ww2.arthritis.org/conditions/DiseaseCenter/RA/default.asp
  2. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Rheumatic_Disease/default.asp
  3. http://www.barackobama.com/issues/disabilities/
  4. http://www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare/