Is osteoarthritis really a disability?


 Osteoarthritis is a disability of the joints and for decades, it is running very common, especially in the population of the US. It targets the age group of people above 60 and is now evident in candidates who are even young. You will be able to witness the common signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis as early as 27 years of age.  According to medical specialists and our profound team of rheumatologists, osteoarthritis needs to be monitored and treated at the right time because if it progresses, it can lead to total destruction in your lifestyle and you will feel daily life activities no less than a burden.  Let’s discover, is osteoarthritis really a disability and how our specialists manage it smoothly. 

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a painful condition of the joints which is characterized by severe inflammation. Based on the severity of the inflammation, it is considered the leading cause and reason for the disability of the joints. A patient affected with arthritis is unable to move his/her bones and joints, carry out regular movements, have a low ability of the senses, and, most commonly, is unable to carry out daily tasks. 

Unfortunately, if arthritis is left undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause more degenerative changes and then progress toward the final stage. Initially, osteoarthritis can be managed and the pain can subside through medications, but once it has passed the end stage, the only option for patients is to undergo a total knee replacement surgery. 

How common is osteoarthritis in the US?

Based on statistics and studies, it is concluded that the majority of unemployed individuals in the US are affected bywith osteoarthritis.  As per the Centers for Disease Control, it is inferred that around 24% of the entire population in the US reports osteoarthritis annually. 

Moving forward, our rheumatology specialists register hundreds of patients with osteoarthritis regularly. This shows that osteoarthritis is widespread in the US. Nonetheless, our specialists provide some impeccable treatments for osteoarthritis, considering its incidence.

Is osteoarthritis a disability?

The most common question we are asked in our practice is, is osteoarthritis a disability? Unfortunately, based on the physicians, osteoarthritis is subjected as a disability let us dive in to see how.

 Individuals who are affected with arthritis or osteoarthritis are unable to carry out the following activities smoothly: 

  •  walking for miles
  •  using the stairs
  •  grabbing things
  •  holding objects for a longer time
  •  not being able to lift heavy objects
  •  feeling disability or pain in standing up or sitting
  •  not being able to move the arms freely
  •  having constant pain in the joints and bones.

 Targeted spots of disability in osteoarthritis

  1. Hips
  2.  back our spine
  3.  knee joints
  4.  elbow joints
  5.  the clavicle or the shoulders
  6. Wrist and fingers
  7. The joints of the toes 

What causes Osteoarthritis?

For a period of years,  studies and research are being carried out to confirm whether osteoarthritis is a disability. Though the answer to that is still questionable, the causes can be helpful in determining it. let us have some insights on what are the causes of osteoarthritis. 


As a person ages, the bones and the joints start losing density as well as mineral content. This makes movements and the lubrication between the joints cease over time. When the two joints come direct in contact and there is no means of cartilage, osteoarthritis is sure to take place. This is very common in individuals who are above 45 years of age.


 At times osteoarthritis does not have any specific cause and you just acquire it because your parents had it, unfortunately. It is not necessary that both of your parents are affected by it; either of them is sufficient enough to transmit it to you.

Joints deformity

 Individuals and patients who are born with some level of joint deformities such as impaired joint, dislocation, and displacement often end up having osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, this is often undiagnosed during childhood and so it is very likely that patients may develop it as they get older with time.


the lower extremities of the body bear a lot of pressure and weight. They, in fact, carry the entire mass of your body and so this puts an extensive strain on the joints and bones in the area below your abdomen. This leads to severe inflammation in the knee joints and ankles. Therefore obese people are very prone and at high risk of osteoarthritis and hence disability.


 Calcium, potassium, and vitamin D are the major components and minerals responsible for the health of your bone and joints. Having low levels of calcium and vitamin D in the body results in early osteoarthritis and even osteoporosis. For the patients who come up with severe joint pain as a complaint, we recommend they get their calcium and vitamin D levels checked. Its deficiency leads to the Initial stages of osteoarthritis.

How do rheumatologists diagnose osteoarthritis?

To confirm whether is osteoarthritis a disability, we run a series of tests and investigatory methods.  here is the list of the diagnostic tools we use: 


 Patients who complain of severe and chronic joint pain are suspected of osteoarthritis. We confirm this by following a pattern of physical examination and investigation tests. 

Physical examination

 the rheumatologist will percuss the joints and in response to the touch, patients complain of severe tenderness and pain. Moreover, some clicking sounds can also be heard while the joints are allowed to move. Some patients also show restricted and interrupted movement, which can be signs of osteoarthritis.

 Investigatory tests



The X-ray may reveal a lack of synovial fluid between the joints and complete fusion without lubrication. Some spines and spicules are also noticed with degenerative changes. In the end stages of osteoarthritis, the bones will appear bent and irregular. 


The MRI scan reveals fluid filled in the spaces of the joints and some bony fragments also scattered along with degenerative changes of the cartilage. 


What are the treatments for osteoarthritis?

Considering the importance of the treatment for osteoarthritis at an early stage does prevent patients from asking if is osteoarthritis a disability. Let us have a closer look at the treatments our rheumatologists offer at SNS : 

Increase physical movements and activities

An increase in physical movements and activities does not mean you should tire yourself or exhaust yourself by doing vigorous activities. It is just that you involve yourself in some healthy exercises that keep your joints and bones in motion rather than freezing them up. 

Weight loss 

If you are obese or overweight, get yourself tested for your BMI. If it lies within the normal range, then you should know that your arthritis is not because of your weight but because of other reasons. However, if your BMI is beyond the normal level, it is high time you switch to a healthy diet and reduce some pounds, which can decrease the weight and pressure on the lower extremities of your body.

Combination of medications 

It is always advisable that you should consult a proper rheumatologist or physician for the prescription of medicines. It is strictly prohibited to take self-medications, so our physicians typically prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs and Cox 2 inhibitors. 


When arthritis has progressed to a very advanced stage, physiotherapy can be to the rescue. Our specialists recommend that a physiotherapy session for two to three weeks on a monthly basis can help minimize the pain and relief stress from the joints.  The therapies may include cold compress, mild exercises, current base tensing, etc. 


A viscosupplementation therapy is an injection consisting of hyaluronic acid. When our specialists inject this substance into the joints helps in the enhancement and lubrication of the joints. It makes movement easier and reduces friction. 


Our rheumatologists believe that best treatment procedure is one that is minimally invasive and has the least potential risks. Considering this, we now use the latest PRP technique in which the platelet rich plasma injection is injected in to the target pain sites. As results there is an instant pain relief and better blood circulation. 

Preventive measures for osteoarthritis recommended by physicians

  • Consume a healthy balanced diet that consists of all the vital minerals and nutrients.
  •  improve your lifestyle
  •  make walking and workout as a regular part of the daily routine
  •  keep yourself limited to the chores and activities that overstress your joints and bones
  • Maintain a healthy weight and monitor your BMI
  • Go for annual Wellness checkups regularly

Take Action Now:

Schedule an Appointment with SNS Rheumatology

When should you see a doctor?

When arthritis starts to make things difficult for you and is giving you a hard time, then know that it’s high time you should see a rheumatologist immediately.  Untreated or undiagnosed osteoarthritis can lead patients to become bedridden. Therefore, we recommend that if you experience severe pain, swelling of the joints, numbness, and fever associated with pain, then report it to rheumatologists ASAP. 

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Dr. Qaisar Usmani

Meet Dr. Qaisar Usmani, a Board Certified Rheumatologist with over 20 years of experience in the field, currently serving as Section Chief at Monmouth Medical Center and GPHA, Inc. in Pennsylvania, specializing in the treatment of various Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal diseases.

Dr. Sadia Ghafoor
Dr. Sadia Ghafoor

Meet Dr. Sadia Ghafoor, a board certified specialist in rheumatology who completed her medical training at the University of Medicine and Dentistry School of Osteopathic Medicine and her fellowship in rheumatology at the State University of New York Stony Brook campus, with additional board certification in internal medicine.

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