Arthritis In Veterans

Arthritis is a common condition that involves joint pain and swelling. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Around half the people diagnosed with arthritis have some level of disability that interferes with their lives.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is actually many diseases - there are more than 100 types. The most common versions of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis, the most common form of the disease, is caused by wear and tear on the joints. This can be the result of injury, overuse or simply old age. Although it can be very painful, osteoarthritis does not make people feel sick or tired. Almost any joint can be affected, although weight-bearing joints such as hips and knees are most commonly affected.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA, is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks the joints in the body, leading to inflammation and damage. It can be more painful than osteoarthritis and is not as limited to weight-bearing joints as the more common form of the disease. The joints can feel warm, and the disease can cause fever, rash and loss of appetite. Morning discomfort, common among those suffering from osteoarthritis, may last the entire day in people with RA.
  • Psoriatic arthritis usually occurs in people who have psoriasis, which is a skin condition that causes patchy, scaly and raised red and white areas of the skin. About 10 percent of people with psoriasis get psoriatic arthritis, which can cause swelling of the fingers and toes. It may also affect the fingernails.
  • Septic arthritis is the result of an infection in the joint. It can be caused by germs in the bloodstream or an injury to the joint that allows germs to enter. It is often extremely painful.

Facts About Arthritis

According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in three veterans have some form of arthritis, and for obvious reasons: Traumatic injuries and overuse of joints, both common during active duty, can lead to the development of arthritis. Additionally, veterans with arthritis or other joint injuries when they entered the service frequently find that their condition becomes worse because of military duty.

The study also found that arthritis is more common among veterans overall than it is in the general population among both men and women. Younger veterans were more likely to have arthritis than people of the same age in the general population.

Arthritis of the spine is the sixth most common reason that veterans receive disability benefits, according to a July 2014 article in the Los Angeles Times.

Applying for VA Disability With Arthritis

Obtaining disability benefits for arthritis from the Department of Veterans Affairs can be challenging. Veterans diagnosed with arthritis within a year of discharge from the service are presumed to have a service-connected disability. In other words, they do not need to prove that their arthritis was the result of a specific event while on active duty. Having a diagnosis of arthritis within one year makes things much easier.

However, countless veterans experience symptoms from arthritis many years after they were discharged from service, making it much more difficult to prove that the arthritis began or worsened during military service.

Get Help With Your Claim for Benefits

Veterans with arthritis who are hoping to obtain VA disability benefits should consider getting help with their claim or appeal. The VA-accredited claims agents at The Rep for Vets® can provide invaluable assistance to veterans throughout the U.S.