How Different Types of Arthritis Affect Joints Differently

When diagnosed with arthritis it is crucial to be aware of how each of the different types of arthritis can affect your joints. Since your joints are affected, it is common to experience symptoms that will prohibit you from working for a long period of time, causing you to need to file for a disability benefit. If your arthritis is likely to last for 12 months or more you may be entitled to disability benefits.

This information below can help one navigate through the difficult times after being diagnosed with one of the 5 different types of arthritis.

What is Arthritis and How Many People Does It Affect?

There are 5 different types of arthritis which are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia and gout. It mainly affects the victim’s joints and their ability to move. The 5 different types of arthritis affect more than 22 million American adults.


Osteoarthritis is the commonest type of arthritis which affects 27 million people in the United States. It takes place when the protective cartilage which acts as a cushion at the ends of the bones deteriorates over time. Osteoarthritis symptoms develop slowly and become worse over time.

The victim suffers pain when moving, stiffness of the joints when moving after being inactive, tenderness when applying light pressure close to the affected joint, loss of flexibility so that the joint cannot easily move, a grating sensation when the joint is used and you may hear crackling a popping, bone spurs may appear which feel like hard lumps which form around the affected joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is an autoimmune disorder and a chronic inflammatory condition which can affect not just your joints but also the lungs, skin, eyes, blood vessels and heart. It affects about 1.5 million adults. It is not quite like osteoarthritis which is due to wear and tear to the joints, but it affects the lining of the joints which result in the development of a painful swelling which may result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

The inflammation caused by this type of arthritis can damage other parts of the body. If severe it can cause physical disabilities. The symptoms are tender swollen joints, joint stiffness, fatigue, appetite loss and fever.

Medical Criteria Needed to Qualify with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Psoriatic Arthritis

This type of arthritis often affects people who have psoriasis which is when red patches form on the skin topped with silvery scales. Psoriatic arthritis causes joint pain, stiffness and swelling which can affect any part of the body, including the spine and fingertips.

Without treatment, psoriatic arthritis can be quite disabling. The signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are similar to rheumatoid arthritis and both types of arthritis cause joints to become painful, swollen and warm when touched.


Fibromyalgia is the 2nd most common condition affecting the bones and muscles. In the United States 5 million people are affected by fibromyalgia. It is characterized by widespread muscle and joint pain and fatigue.

The most common symptoms are burning, muscle pain, twitching and tightness. It feels like osteoarthritis but other features of it are fatigue, difficulties with remembering and concentrating, insomnia and feeling depressed.


Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when too much uric acid is present in the victim’s blood when it forms sharp crystals in one or more of the joints. This often takes place in the big toe but also the elbow, knee, ankle, hand, foot and wrist.

Attacks may be sudden and cause severe pain with swelling and redness occurring around the joint. Gout is on the rise in the country with 3 million affected by the condition in 2005 compared to 2.1 million in 1990.

What to Do If You Have Arthritis

Many of the symptoms and side-effects of the different types of arthritis limit the ability of the victim to earn an income. If you have been diagnosed with one of the 5 types of arthritis and you are unlikely to be able to work for at least 12 months you can file a claim for Social Security Disability benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Before completing the application for disability benefits you should ensure your arthritis can be found in the SSA’s Blue Book which lists medical conditions which are serious enough for victims to qualify for disability benefits.

You should also provide sufficient evidence to show your arthritis is so severe that it prevents you from going to work for at least 12 months. The sort of evidence you may require are tests results confirming you have one of the 5 types of arthritis, a report compiled by your physician including results of any treatment you have received a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) test result indicating your movement is restricted by your arthritis or your mental capacity isn’t sufficient to go to work.

As soon as you have gathered all the evidence to support your arthritis diagnosis and how it causes you to be disabled you should submit your application for disability benefits. The application form can be found and completed online but you can also send it to the SSA by mail or to your nearest SSA office.

What You Will Need To Know When Filing For Social Security Disability with Arthritis

Arthritis is a debilitating and painful condition so you should make sure you have all the evidence to prove how the medical condition prevents you from doing everyday tasks including going to work. You have a higher chance of your application being successful if you work with an attorney who will evaluate your situation and help you prepare your social security disability benefits application for arthritis.

The disability attorney should offer you a free case evaluation. Once a decision has been made to file an application on your behalf you will only have to wait for a favorable decision to be made by the officer at the SSA who has been given the responsibility for assessing your application.

Get a Free Case Evaluation today!

Additional Resources

Find Out If I Qualify for Benefits!