Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful inflammatory disease, which, in the absence of appropriate treatment can lead to joint destruction and disability. The rheumatic disease is progressive, and normally affects the articular and extra-articular joint structures resulting in pain, disability and mortality in people who are afflicted with the disease.
Typically, persistent inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis leads to erosive joint damage and functional impairment in the vast majority of people afflicted with the terrible disease. The joints normally affected are the joints in the fingers, the hands, the wrists, and small joints of the feet. Sometimes the joints in the shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles can also be affected. With the exception of the neck, the spine is normally unaffected. Other symptoms that are non-specific that often appear are depression, fatigue (which can be particularly troublesome) and malaise.
Rheumatoid arthritis can no doubt cause limited range of motion due to swelling, stiffness and pain. Other symptoms can be joint locking and joint deformity.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause nodules of tissue under the skin to develop, as well as itchy and dry skin, skin rashes, skin ulcers, and mouth sores.
Dry eyes and blurred vision are not uncommon, as well as respitory disorders and the increased risk of hear disease, since inflammation affects the heart and can eventually harden the arteries.
There is a significant difference.
With OA your joint cartilage and lining, ligaments, and bone are all affected by deterioration. When the cartilage begins to break down due to injury or illness, the surrounding bones slowly start to rub together. The pain builds up over time and feels worse after joint use. In addition, osteoarthritis only affects the particular joint because the joint cartilage is worn away due to injury or over-use.
Rheumatoid arthritis is much different – it’s chronic inflammation of the joints. The degeneration caused by RA tends to affect the smaller joints in the body first, namely the joints in the fingers, hands, and feet. The damage then spreads to other major joints in the body. It’s early symptoms may appear as imprecise pain with slow appearance without classic symptoms of joint swelling or tenderness. These symptoms are usually quite non-specific, and can persist for a long time. A person may gradually experience morning joint stiffness and redness for more than 30 minutes, or arthritis type pain in the small joints of the hands or feet with ongoing swelling and tenderness.
The pain is normally symmetrical – meaning in both sides of the body, whreas with osteroarthritis, the pain and disability affects the particular joint that is causing you pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease – meaning that the disease will become more aggressive over time. Typically, the inflammation is will cause serious damage to the affected joints because of progressive joint swelling and/or persistent damage to the cartilage and bone. Also, the chronic inflammation that occurs with rheumatoid arthritis can cause major problems with your lungs, eyes and cardiovascular system (heart). For example, if you suffer prolonged and chronic inflammation in the lungs, it can lead to pulmonary fibrosis, which makes breathing very hard – and negatively affect your overall quality of life.
Although many of the medications and therapies are designed to try and decreased underlying inflammation inside the joint, there is no known cure. Quite often people that suffer from rheumatoid arthritis can go through periods of long remissions (where symptoms disappear for a long while), have symptoms that come and go, while others suffer progressive and ongoing inflammation that never stops.
In all cases, however, inflammation wears away your joint cartilage, which causes your bones to become unstable and rub together. Eventually you might start to notice deformities as the bones move around within the context of the joint. Pain, swelling, and loss of motion will progressively occur and joint replacement surgery might become an option.
If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and suffer from severe progressive symptoms there is no doubt that your daily life and work life can be negatively affected.
It may be quite difficult for a person who chronically suffers from a reduced range of motion, fatigue, chronic pain, reduced mobility or overall reduced function to adhere to any type of regular work schedule.
The disease often will cause functional limitations for a person – such as the inability to walk, walk for long, sit for long, reach overhead, with your overall mobility, stooping, crouching, kneeling ect – which can lead to problems in most occupations, either physical or sedentary. Things like typing on a keyboard or using a stapler can cause irritation, which over time, can lead to exhausting pain. A teacher may not be able to get up in the morning and make it to school for 8:00 a.m. if he or she has progressive morning stiffness and joint swelling/pain.
In addition – autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis requires constant treatment – even if symptoms aren’t constant. A person can experience flare ups which are inconsistent, debilitating and unpredictable. One day, a person’s joints can feel pretty good, while the next, swelling and pain can cause a person to be unable to get out of bed. Work can, in time, become a very difficult.
If you suffer rheumatoid arthritis and have been denied or cut-off long term disability benefits, you may have a claim against your long-term disability insurance carrier if you are unable to complete the substantial duties of your own employment.
Many claimants are also denied long-term disability benefits at the two year mark, otherwise called the change of definition or the COD. At this point in the claim, most policies change from what is called your “own occupation” to “any occupation” meaning that you must be disabled from doing the duties of any job for which you are reasonably trained by education, training and experience.
Whether you qualify for long-term disability benefits depends on the nature and severity of your work related restrictions.
Many times, insurance carriers will have their own internet or hired doctors to perform a so called “independent medical examination” which will more often than not find you are able to work at some type of occupation.
Whatever your situation of denial, it’s important that you contact a disability lawyer that can help you get your monthly benefits back on track.
Our Hamilton disability lawyers work with the best experts in the field – from auto immune experts, to pain experts to orthopedic surgeons, vocational and psychiatric experts. We understand that rheumatoid arthritis is a very serious autoimmune disease and your individual or group long-term disability insurance company should no doubt protect your financial future by providing you the disability benefits you deserve.
If you have been denied or cut-off your long-term disability benefits, call our Hamilton disability lawyers at 905-333-8888 or contact us online today. We can help with your individual or group long-term disability claim and help get your benefits back on track.