Articles Posted in Upper Extremity Disability

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Persons who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis may experience a number of symptoms including swelling, pain and fatigue that may prevent them from standing for long periods of time, or performing certain routine activities. A new study finds that persons who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis may actually be at a much higher risk for suffering kidney disease.

The study which was conducted at Mayo Clinic focused on 813 people who had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and compared them with another group of people who did not suffer from the condition. They found that over a period of 20 years, persons who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis had a 25% risk of developing chronic kidney disease. In the general population, the risk was 20%. According to researchers, that may not seem like a statistically significant disparity, but it is quite a big difference, and creates serious implications for the management of rheumatoid arthritis.

Typically, a person who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from stiffness of the joints because of inflammation. In fact, this is a hallmark characteristic of this condition, and the stiffened joints make the upper and lower extremities difficult to use. Apart from stiffness, patients may also suffer from chronic pain and severe fatigue, both of which affect their ability to work. Approximately one out of three people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis leave their jobs.

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Rotator cuff injuries are shoulder injuries that can lead to severe pain and chronic disability. Very often, surgery is recommended for persons who have suffered serious rotator cuff tears, but these surgeries also have high failure rates, especially when they involve very large tears, or older patients. Now, researchers are trying to understand exactly how these muscles and tendons attach to each other, in order to possibly develop engineered tissues that could help to improve outcomes for rotator cuff repair surgeries.

The rotator cuff refers to a combination of bones, muscles and tendons in the shoulder, which play a prominent role in helping the person move his or her shoulder freely. However, these muscles and tendons may be at a higher risk of injury due to aging- related wear and tear, repetitive stress in the workplace, a fall, or any other type of shoulder injury. Sometimes, these injuries occur as a result of severe shoulder dislocation.

A person who suffers from a rotator cuff injury often suffers from severe pain, which may range from a deep, dull ache, to constant pain that makes it difficult for him or her to lie down on the affected side. There may be limited range of mobility in the shoulder, and that may make it difficult for the person to raise his arms high. There may be muscle fatigue or weakness. If the pain is consistent or severe, the person may simply find it easier to not move the shoulder at all. Obviously, such pain can severely impact the person’s ability to perform routine activities, especially workplace activities.

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A number of psychological factors can affect the magnitude of upper extremity disability. According to new research that was published recently in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, factors like catastrophic thinking and kinesiophobia (irrational fear of pain as a result of movement) are critical elements in determining the magnitude of such disability.

The researchers analyzed a total of 319 patients who had suffered upper extremity disability. They were looking at the effect of kinesiophobia and perceived partner support on the magnitude of the disability. The survey measured symptoms including depression, anxiety, kinesiophobia, catastrophic thinking as well as the patient’s perceived level of support from a partner or spouse.

The researchers found that the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand, or DASH scores were better for men than women. They also found that the scores were very strongly affected by marital status, diagnosis as well as the person’s employment status. They found a very strong link between DASH scores and depressive symptoms kinesiophobia, catastrophic thinking and pain anxiety.