Inflammation causes more than just pain. It is a leading cause of disability. A disability limits your movements, senses, and activities. You may be unable to perform daily tasks in severe cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 50 million people in the United States have arthritis, which equals 24%.

When left untreated, arthritis can be debilitating. In fact, arthritis limits the activities of nearly 10% of U.S. adults. The Disability Benefits Center reports that arthritis is among the top 10 conditions that typically qualify for disability benefits.

Understanding how your arthritis can affect your daily life is important. This may make you take action.

There are two main types of arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). RA is an autoimmune condition that occurs when your immune system attacks the lining of your joints. Over time, RA can damage your joint cartilage and bones. OA happens when cartilage in your joints wears down through wear and tear.

There are more than 100 forms of arthritis. All can cause pain and inflammation.

There are many mental and physical health conditions that can be caused by arthritis.

The activities you find difficult to complete are what determine your level of disability. You may have trouble.

  • walking up stairs
  • walking for a short distance.
  • For 2 hours, standing or sitting.
  • grasping small objects
  • lifting 10 pounds or more.
  • holding your arms up

If your condition is interfering with your work, you might be able to find a job. Jobs that are physically demanding can be difficult to do with arthritis. It can make office work harder.

The CDC reports that 1 in 10 adults is limited in their ability to work because of arthritis, though the actual number may be higher.

There are many ways that arthritis can cause disability.

Pain and immobility

Pain, a noticeable symptom of arthritis, occurs when cartilage in your joints breaks down and your bones rub against each other. It may also be caused by swelling and inflammation. You can experience arthritis-related pain in any joint in your body, including your:

  • The shoulders are big.
  • The elbows.
  • The wrists.
  • The finger is knuckled.
  • The hips are not straight.
  • The knees.
  • The anklets.
  • Toe joints.
  • The spine.

This pain can affect your mobility. Lack of mobility is a common feature of physical disability. Being overweight can cause arthritis-related pain and mobility problems.


In addition to pain, a person with arthritis may experience chronic fatigue. When fatigue is severe enough, it can be disabling.

A person with arthritis and experiencing fatigue should see a doctor to rule out other conditions. This includes:

  • Anemia.
  • The low thyroid function is low.
  • There are virus-related conditions.

A person may experience rheumatic symptoms from COVID-19 that they didn’t have before. Or, a person who is already living with arthritis may see their symptoms worsen after developing COVID-19.

Skin and organs

Joint pain isn’t the only symptom of arthritic conditions. RA can cause skin rashes and organ problems. Gout can cause the skin around your joints to become painfully inflamed. Lupus can cause various debilitating symptoms, including:

  • excessive fatigue.
  • breathing difficulties
  • There is a high degree of fever.
  • There is damage to the kidneys.

These symptoms can make daily tasks harder and make you seriously ill.

Take steps to treat your arthritis early. Your doctor may recommend treatments. Regular exercise can help.

With your doctor’s consent, include low impact workouts into your routine. For example, consider:

  • walking
  • A bike is being ridden.
  • Water aerobics.
  • tai chi
  • Light weights are used for strength training.

A disabling health condition can deplete your bank account in a matter of minutes. It can make it harder to make a living. It can be expensive to treat and manage.

According to the CDC, the annual cost of arthritis in medical spending and wage loss equals about $303.5 billion.

There are answers to additional questions about arthritis and disability here.

What are government benefits programs for disability?

You may be able to collect Social Security Disability Insurance if you qualify. You may also qualify for Supplemental Security Income based on your specific need. You can apply for both programs online. You may also qualify for disability insurance through Medicare.

Can private insurance pay for arthritis disability?

You may be able to get disability payments if you’re unable to work and your employer offers a private insurance plan. But not everyone has access to this option. Only about one-third of people working in the private sector have access to disability income-protection coverage.

How to qualify for disability if you have arthritis?

According to the Disability Benefits Center, to qualify for disability benefits, you need to prove that you can’t work and that your symptoms are expected to last for at least a year. You’ll need to provide medical and financial documentation before approval. Private insurance companies may have other requirements.

People living with arthritis are challenged by disability. Early detection and treatment can help prevent it. Ignoring your symptoms will make you worse off.

If you suspect you have arthritis, you should make an appointment with your doctor. If you have arthritis, you may have a disability related to it. Ask your doctor about the laws for disabled people. You may be able to get special accommodations to help you manage your condition.