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New Jersey author advocates for rheumatoid arthritis

A New Jersey woman -- who is also a published author and an arthritis advocate -- is taking a personal approach to raising awareness of rheumatoid arthritis: telling her own story.

The woman was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 8. Since her freshman year in college, she's coordinated various projects aimed at increasing awareness of the disease. Since 1999, she has also been a national trainer for the Arthritis Foundation's aquatic and land exercise classes. As a trainer, she travels regionally to educate other instructors on exercise teaching methods.

Exercise regimes are just one of several strategies for coping with the debilitating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, for which there is no cure. Other symptoms may include joint swelling, extreme fatigue, rheumatoid nodules, and morning stiffness lasting more than an hour. Many arthritis patients are prescribed pain medications for their condition.

Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as an autoimmune disease because the body's own immune cells attack healthy tissues, resulting in inflammation. The disease primarily attacks the joints, but it may also affect organs and other systems. The Arthritis Foundation estimates that around 50 million American adults and 300,000 American children are affected by the disease, which ranks it among the country's most common causes of disability. Unfortunately, researchers do not yet know the cause of the disease.

There is no single test which can diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors typically make the diagnosis by relying on a combination of measurements, including laboratory tests, x-rays and MRIs, a clinical examination, and a review of a patient's medical history.

In many cases, the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis severely interfere with a person's ability to work. For example, a worker may find it difficult to sit or stand for extended periods of time. When that happens, Social Security disability benefits may be available. However, to qualify for SSDI assistance, an applicant must do more than provide proof of a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. Among other requirements, an applicant must provide documentation of the severity of his or her condition. An attorney can explain these evidentiary requirements in greater detail.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Men & Women of Harford Making a Difference," By Jennifer K. Dansicker & L'Oreal Thompson, Oct. 4, 2012

  • Our firm handles situations similar to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our New Jersey Rheumatoid Arthritis page.

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