Arthritis is the leading cause of long-term pain and disability for Canadians. In most cases, Canadians begin to suffer from the effects of arthritis during their key working years, between the ages of 35 and 50, so arthritis can have a significant impact on financial security as well as quality of life. And, it’s expected that the number of people disabled by arthritis will continue to increase, with about one out of every four people affected by arthritis by 2040 (jointhealth.org).
There are many types of arthritis and related conditions, but the most common are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
Osteoarthritis results when the protective cartilage in a joint disintegrates. Over time, this can lead to the bones of the joint rubbing against one another and when this occurs, it can become increasingly painful and difficult to move the joint and the affected area.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are autoimmune conditions. RA occurs when a person’s own immune system attacks the lining of their joints and/or other organs, resulting in chronic inflammation and eventually, permanent damage. With PsA, the person’s immune system similarly attacks their joints, resulting in inflammation and pain.
Fibromyalgia is believed to result when a person’s brain and spinal cord process pain signals in a different way and this causes the affected person to feel widespread pain. Common side effects for persons suffering from fibromyalgia are: sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood disorders including depression. Fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis also often cause back pain.
Gout can occur when uric acid builds up in a person’s joints (most commonly, in the big toe), causing very painful joint inflammation.
How Arthritis can result in Disability
The prevailing symptom of arthritis is pain, and arthritis pain is often chronic and debilitating. About one in four people suffering from arthritis describe their pain as severe (www.arthritis.org).
In addition to pain, arthritis causes stiffness in the joints and increasing difficulty moving the joints. As a result, arthritis sufferers typically experience reduced mobility and limitations in their activities.This can impact the person’s ability to perform day to day activities, including dressing, walking, getting up from a prone position, and doing even the most basic chores. Consequently, many people with arthritis find that, along with needing help with many daily functions, they can no longer participate in social activities and physical activities they once enjoyed.
For many sufferers, arthritis pain and difficulty moving make it difficult to perform essential tasks required in their job. Sitting, standing or walking for long periods; getting up and down; grasping objects; climbing stairs; and lifting moderately heavy objects – these are common activities in many types of work and can become extremely difficult (if not impossible) and painful for people with arthritis. And, depending on the severity and type of arthritis, the affected person may have additional symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating, fatigue, anxiety and depression, which further impact their ability to perform effectively at work.
Added to these challenges, arthritis sufferers typically feel higher stress levels due, in great part, to their limitations and they are almost twice as likely to suffer from a mood or anxiety disorder than the general population. Many people with arthritis report that they also suffer from back problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and/or heart disease, which further undermines their general health.
If you are suffering from arthritis symptoms that prevent you from performing the essential activities of your job, and your disability insurer has denied or terminated your disability benefits, talk to an experienced ILO disability claims lawyer in your community. In many cases, a knowledgeable disability claims lawyer can successfully resolve an insurance dispute and force the insurance company to pay owed benefits.