Can Arthritis Prevent You From Receiving Workers' Compensation?

Arthritis is a disease that can often complicate workers' compensation claims–but it doesn't bar them. If you're concerned that your age-related arthritis is somehow going to prevent you from being fairly compensated for an on-the-job injury, this is what you should know.

How can arthritis be related to a workers' comp claim?

Arthritis is a catch-all term that encompasses over 100 different forms of the disease. It can affect nearly any part of the body, but many people notice it in their major joints (like the knees, hips, ankles, and wrists) first. It also often affects spines, hands, and feet, as well.

No matter what type of arthritis you have, you likely suffer from some form of inflammation and pain. If you suffer from a form called osteoarthritis, which is the most common form found in people over 50 years of age, you also have deterioration of the cartilage that helps cushion your joints.

When you experience an injury at work, you can aggravate a condition like arthritis and cause it to suddenly worsen. For example, if the osteoarthritis is in your spine and shoulders, lifting heavy boxes in a warehouse could cause your sensitive joints to get inflamed.

Your ligaments, already strained due to the disease, may be more susceptible to damage. The discs in your back could be somewhat fragile and lifting a box the wrong way may cause a disc to slip out of place or crumble. The condition may quickly go from being under control to being virtually debilitating. 

Many employees don't realize that the rules for workers' compensation say that you're entitled to benefits when a preexisting condition is aggravated or worsened by an on-the-job injury. That can keep employees from filing when they have a legitimate claim.

How do you prove that workers' comp should pay?

Your own regular doctor and your doctor's records are probably your best tools when it comes to getting benefits after an injury aggravates an arthritic condition. Your medical records can help you show that your arthritis was under control or minimally disruptive prior to the point that you were injured on the job. They can also show how disruptive the condition becomes after the injury.

Your doctor may also order diagnostic tests like x-rays or MRIs that can show the damage to your joints and the discs in your back. Your use of anti-inflammatories and painkillers may also be used as evidence that your condition has worsened. 

If you hadn't been receiving medical treatment and the arthritis was unknown to you, that's even stronger evidence that your condition was aggravated by the workplace injury. You may also be able to introduce evidence of an active life, especially if you had physical hobbies, like hunting, fishing, or sports. 

Don't allow yourself to be convinced that your arthritis is a barrier to workers' comp benefits. If you employer tells you that you aren't entitled due to a preexisting condition, talk to an attorney about your rights. Click here to learn more from a go to website.