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Rheumatoid arthritis how to live with the disease

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which affects an estimated 2 million Americans. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis it’s likely you experience inflammation, stiffness and joint pain. Over time the condition can also lead to deformity and bone damage. A common complaint from rheumatoid arthritis sufferers is that when they move- everything hurts.

English: A hand affected by rheumatoid arthritis

Why walking helps rheumatoid arthritis sufferers?


If you have rheumatoid arthritis one of the best things doctors recommend is walking.  In fact, the American Arthritis Foundation recommends 150 minutes of walking each week. This may sound like a lot, but if you start slow and incorporate 20 minute of walking throughout your day to the coffee shop, park or grocery store, it’s easier than you might think.

Medical experts suggest walking and maintaining a healthy weight are two of the main ways you can reduce stress on your joints. Additionally, if you strengthen the muscles around your joints you are also less likely to experience inflammation and joint pain.

Another recommendation is warming up before you stretch or taking a bath, which can also increase your body temperature, making your muscles more pliable. If you take time to warm-up and stretch each day you will keep your muscles, tendons, and ligaments stretched.

Avoiding exercise is not a good idea


While it’s not unusual to avoid exercise if you have debilitating pain, doctors suggest that exercise, including warming up, stretching, and walking are beneficial for most rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Not only does exercise help you live longer, it can strengthen your bones, improve your functional ability to care for yourself, and help relieve stress, making it easier for you to cope with your condition.

Talk to your doctor first and make sure you are healthy enough to exercise. If the doctor gives you a green light, you may be able to incorporate a variety of different types of exercises including strength training, stretching, and aerobic exercise.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Rheumatoid Arthritis


Social Security Disability Insurance is awarded to disabled individuals who are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. To qualify for SSDI you must be unable to work and perform substantial gainful activity.  You also must have accumulated enough work credits to be considered insured by the SSA.

Unfortunately, in one recent survey of people with RA, researchers found that “over a three-month period, employees with rheumatoid arthritis took off an average of two to three weeks from work.” Some RA sufferers also have to work modified work schedules or have to change jobs to find a more suitable career.

Will you be able to get SSDI for your RA? Potentially, but you will have to prove that you are 100% disabled and cannot work. If you are able to work with your condition or you are not 100% disabled, you will be denied SSDI benefits. Talk to a disability lawyer if you have questions about the requirements.
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