If you were asked to list off conditions that the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers to be disabilities, then you’d likely include rare diseases or catastrophic injuries. The truth, however, is that even common conditions such as osteoarthritis (also called “degenerative arthritis”) are included on the SSA’s list of disabling conditions. Mayo Clinic data shows that several million people have this condition worldwide.

Individuals who suffer from osteoarthritis generally experience the most discomfort in their hips, hands, spine and knees. Patients can actually feel pain in any part of their body as the protective cartilage found on the tips of their bones diminishes across time.

There are a number of risk factors for this condition:

  • Older individuals have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis.
  • Women also tend to develop this disease more than men.
  • Some individuals are simply genetically prone to this condition.
  • Others may be born with defective cartilage or malformed joints that make them more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis.
  • The bodies of individuals who are overweight produce proteins that may cause joint inflammation. The added weight that they carry can make them more apt to develop osteoarthritis, especially in the hips and knees.
  • Individuals who hold certain jobs where they have to put the same joint under repetitive stress are at high risk for developing osteoarthritis.
  • Those who have played sports or been involved in an accident have high incident rates of this condition as well.

While individuals with osteoarthritis can manage their symptoms by exercising and keeping their weight in a healthy range, they can’t reverse their condition. There are treatments, however, that can help patients improve their joint function and minimize their pain.

While degenerative arthritis is very common and will affect most of us as we age, some people may be unable to work at all because of this disease. Even in cases where a joint replacement can improve the condition, a victim of degenerative arthritis may be off work for a year or longer during recovery.

If you’re suffering from osteoarthritis and unable to work, an attorney with experience handling Social Security Disability claims can help you pursue the benefits you need in order to move forward.