The term arthritis refers to conditions involving inflammation of one or more joints of the body. Arthritis generally causes pain and stiffness of the affected joint. There are different types of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment is dependent on the type of arthritis, and can include physical therapy, lifestyle changes, medications, and arthroplasty (surgical remodeling or replacement).

General Information
Although there are many types of arthritis with variable mechanisms responsible for the disease, all arthritic disorders cause pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints.

Osteoarthritis is the term given to arthritis caused by degeneration of cartilage and underlying bone within a joint. Joints most commonly affected by osteoarthritis include the spine, knees, hips, and hands. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting 27 million people in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, it is the leading cause of chronic disability in the United States.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning an abnormal immune system response to the body is the underlying cause of the condition. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease and may also affect other body systems and organs. Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately 0.6% of adults in the United States.

Inflammatory arthritis is the term used to describe a group of diseases that may cause arthritic symptoms, but where these symptoms are considered secondary to another disease process. Examples include systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or simply Lupus), Scleroderma, inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This spectrum includes a vast array of disorders that differ in cause, course, and outcome. These disorders are known to cause additional non-joint symptoms including severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and involuntary weight loss.

Social Security Medical Assessment
Medical Listings 1.02 and 1.03 discuss Major Joint Dysfunction and Reconstructive Surgery of a Major Weight-Bearing Joint, respectively. If you have an inflammatory arthritis, Medical Listing 14.09 discusses criteria more specific to the autoimmune varieties of arthritis. You may also be found disabled without meeting a specific listing if your condition interferes significantly with your ability to perform work-like tasks for a year or longer.

Your representative can help you determine whether your arthritis is severe enough for you to qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration.