Your Guide to Arthritis Claims
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis refers to the tenderness and swelling of one or more of the joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint stiffness and pain – a symptom that typically worsens with age. The most common types include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Other types include septic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gouty arthritis, pseudogout and others.
The inflammatory condition of arthritis results in painful, stiff and deformed joints. In the UK alone, more than 10 million people suffer from arthritis or similar joint-related condition. Arthritis affects people of all ages, including children. This joint disease can be disabling and very painful.
Sufferers of arthritis can flare-up from time to time. Flare-ups can make it difficult to get out of bed, to work, and function on a daily basis. Arthritis claims succeed where there has been poor management of the condition. Failing to diagnose the condition and delayed or inappropriate treatment can make the disease much worse.
|Arthritis claims for compensation – in terms of medical negligence – can be claimed where there has been unnecessary delay in diagnosis or treatment of the condition. Also, where the patient has not been offered appropriate treatment options, inclusive of disease-modifying agents. Inappropriate or delayed treatment can cause the disease to progress unchecked affecting the person’s mobility. This can cause excessive pain and compromise quality of life.
What are the types of arthritis?
The most common type of arthritis in the UK is osteoarthritis – affecting approximately 9 million UK citizens. It most often affects adults who are at least 40 years old or older. Women have a higher predisposition, and people with a family history of the condition are also at a higher risk. But it can affect people of any age as a result of an injury or can be associated with other joint-related conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
Osteoarthritis initially causes age-related degeneration of smooth cartilage lining of the joint. As the function of this joint cartilage is to lubricate the joint movement, it leads to difficult joint movement, leading to pain and stiffness.
The most commonly affected joints in osteoarthritis are:
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that worsens with time progressing with age, with chronic pain, the chief complaint from the sufferer. Pain and disability of osteoarthritis can also result in depression and sleep disturbances.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis
The disease rheumatoid arthritis is classified as an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your immune system mistakenly starts producing antibodies against your own body’s tissues. The body attacks itself. This leads to damage to the lining of your joints, followed by painful swelling, and eventually bone decay and joint deformity.
Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in smaller joints such as the joints of your hands and feet. This includes joints called metacarpal, carpal, metatarsal and tarsal. Symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, and shoulders, occurring in the same joints on both sides of your body. About 40 percent of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers also have symptoms involving skin, lungs, heart, kidneys, eyes, and salivary glands.
Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis range from:
- Warm, tender, and swollen joints
- Joint stiffness that typically worsens in the mornings and following periods of inactivity
- Fever, fatigue, malaise, and loss of appetite
- Visible joint deformities (swan neck)
Complications of rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis increases your risk of developing:
- Rheumatoid nodules.
- Lung disease.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Dry eyes and mouth.
- Abnormal body composition.
- Heart problems.
3. Ankylosing spondylitis
(AS) is a rare type of arthritis that causes pain and stiffness in your spine. This lifelong condition, also known as Bechterew disease, usually starts in your lower back. It can spread up to your neck or damage joints in other parts of your body.
4. Post-traumatic arthritis
Post-traumatic arthritis develops as a result of a trauma, while regular arthritis develops gradually without any apparent outside reason. This type of arthritis amounts to about 12% of osteoarthritis cases. Symptoms typically start 2-5 years after an injury to the joint was sustained.
Arthritis claims for medical negligence can arise when, for example, orthopaedic surgery goes wrong. In addition, where a traumatic fracture is treated incorrectly.
How is Arthritis Diagnosed?
- you’re over 45 years of age or older
- you have joint pain that worsens with activity or in the evening
- the stiffness in your joints is not there in the mornings or lasts less than 30 minutes
Further tests, such as imaging studies like X-rays, MRIs, or blood tests, are not typically necessary. However, these tests may be used to rule out other possibilities, like rheumatoid arthritis or a fractured bone.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (“RA”)
The diagnosis of RA is based on your presenting symptoms and a physical examination of your joints by your physician. Blood tests can be used to help confirm the clinical diagnosis. These tests can detect the presence of certain inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein, ESR and certain proteins. These antibodies are produced by the body’s immune system.
What is Medical Negligence when it comes to Arthritis?
Timely diagnosis and treatment are crucial in most forms of arthritis. Early detection and diagnosis of Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to prescribing of what are called disease-modifying agents (“DMARDS”). These drugs can slow down the progression of the disease. DMARDS can also stop the appearance of systemic symptoms in a patient with RA. DMARDs include methotrexate and others.
Similarly, the diagnosis of septic arthritis is also time-sensitive. Septic arthritis must be treated immediately with antibiotics following a diagnosis. If the infection has progressed, an emergency surgical washout may be necessary. This treatment must be provided on an immediate basis. Otherwise, the infection can quickly spread – potentially resulting in the amputation of the limb.
Do I have an osteoarthritis claim?
You should be eligible to make an osteoarthritis injury claim if
- in the past three years, you have realised that poor medical care may have caused your condition or made it worse
- someone else (e.g. medical practitioner) can be shown to have been at fault
How can Arthritis Claims Help You?
Compensation can offer victims the ability to immediately purchase badly needed support. This could include physical or occupational therapy. In addition to being able to buy treatment privately, compensation can also accelerate treatment for a patient with severe osteoarthritis. A patient may need to consult an orthopaedic surgeon to find out whether a hip or knee replacement is appropriate and could opt for private treatment. The compensation amount can also cover other items, such as custom-fitted wedges for shoes to mobility scooters.
Successful Compensation Claims for Arthritis
The claimant, a 37-year-old man, received £45,000 for the delay in diagnosing and providing medication for his ankylosing spondylitis between October 2010 and April 2014. He suffered a considerable amount of kyphotic deformity and stiffness in the hip, his mobility was very restricted and he required assistance with washing and dressing.
A previously very fit and active elderly gentleman was in the early stages of inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis when he was seen by a rheumatologist. For 4 years, the rheumatologist failed to diagnose his condition. Our client suffered significant pain. Appropriate investigations and treatment would have included scans and blood tests. He should then have been prescribed disease-modifying drugs.
By the time this man received appropriate treatment his erosions were well-established. He suffered widespread and irreversible damage. This led to a higher level of handicap affecting his everyday activities than would have been the case had he been diagnosed 4 years earlier.
Had he been a much younger claimant then the amount of compensation would have been considerably higher but this was an elderly chap who was only able to claim financial losses for a time-limited period.