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Every year, the month of May is observed as “Arthritis Awareness Month “in the United States – it is the time to highlight the challenges of living with a chronic joint disease. Sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation, the campaign is a unique platform to make people more aware about arthritis and the potential issues involved. It is a time to motivate Americans to get up and go on, while raising funds for arthritis research, support and advocacy. Arthritis is inflammation of one of more of your joints. There are different types of arthritis and the most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment for this chronic joint condition varies and depends on the type of arthritis a person suffers from. In most cases, a combination of different modalities like – medications, physical therapy, and usage of splints/braces will be recommended to determine what works best for patients. Recognizing the symptoms and potential risk factors early can help determine the best treatment possible. Rheumatologists or orthopedic specialists while providing appropriate treatment should also ensure that the medical coding for this condition is properly done on the medical claims. Proper coding on the medical claims is important for healthcare providers/medical billing and coding companies to ensure accurate documentation and reimbursement.

Reports suggest that arthritis is a leading cause of disability affecting more than 50 million Americans – 1 in every 5 adults, 300,000 children and countless families are affected by arthritis. The campaign helps affected people to easily deal with this commonly misunderstood health issue. Arthritis affects the muscles, bones and joints and the symptoms can be very painful. Depending on the type of arthritis, the signs and symptoms may differ and include – pain, stiffness, swelling and redness, and reduced range of motion. The pain can be extremely debilitating and prevent people from performing routine normal tasks.

The monthly campaign aims to highlight the burdens faced by people who get affected by different types of arthritis and make them more aware about advanced treatment, prevention, better research and support to improve the quality of life. There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases. The most common types include – rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), osteoporosis, psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, spondyloarthritis and gout.

In most cases, arthritis is caused by excessive physical activity, genetic predispositions, auto immune disorders, obesity and sports impact injuries. Diagnosis of this condition will generally begin with a detailed physical examination, wherein the physician will check joints for swelling, redness and warmth and also examine the movement of joints. Depending on the type of arthritis suspected, rheumatologists may suggest some imaging tests like – X-ray, Computerized tomography (CT), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Ultrasound. In addition, laboratory tests will be done to analyze different types of body fluids like blood, urine and joint fluids.

Treatment for arthritis includes medications and physical therapy. Medications used will vary depending on the type of arthritis. Commonly used arthritis medications include – Analgesics, Biologic response modifiers, Corticosteroids, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and Counterirritants. Physical therapy exercises can improve the range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints. In some cases, splints or braces may be warranted. If conservative measures don’t yield the desired results, physicians may suggest surgical options like – joint repair, joint fusion and joint replacement.

Rheumatologists or other orthopedic specialists offering specialized treatment to arthritic patients need to be reimbursed for their services. The diagnosis, screening tests and other procedures must be carefully documented using the appropriate medical codes. Medical coding services offered by reputable providers can help physicians in using the right ICD-10 codes for their medical billing process.

ICD- 10 Codes for Arthritis

  • M00 – Pyogenic arthritis
  • M01 – Direct infections of joint in infectious and parasitic diseases classified elsewhere
  • M02 – Post infective and reactive arthropathies
  • M05 – Rheumatoid arthritis with rheumatoid factor
  • M06 – Other rheumatoid arthritis
  • M07 – Enteropathic arthropathies
  • M08 – Juvenile arthritis
  • M10 – Gout
  • M11 – Other crystal arthropathies
  • M12 – Other and unspecified arthropathy
  • M13 – Other arthritis
  • M14 – Arthropathies in other diseases classified elsewhere
  • M1A – Chronic gout
  • M15 – Polyosteoarthritis
  • M16 – Osteoarthritis of hip
  • M17 – Osteoarthritis of knee
  • M18 – Osteoarthritis of first carpometacarpal joint
  • M19 – Other and unspecified osteoarthritis
  • M80 – Osteoporosis with current pathological fracture
  • M81 – Osteoporosis without current pathological fracture
  • M83 – Adult osteomalacia
  • M84 – Disorder of continuity of bone
  • M85 – Other disorders of bone density and structure
  • M79.7 – Fibromyalgia

The Arthritis Foundation offers strong support to people in their fight or journey against arthritis disease. As part of the month-long campaign, a wide-range of awareness and fund-raising activities are conducted by the Arthritis Foundation. These include tips on nationwide events, treatment, and diet. A program called “Arthritis Walk event” takes place in hundreds of communities throughout the United States. The event typically comprises of teams of at least 10 walkers. Teams can be formed with friends, families, co-workers and vendors who walk to raise funds for the event. The minimum distance to be covered for this walk event is about 5 km. However, a shorter course of 1 mile will be offered for people who are less able.

Participate in Arthritis Awareness Month Celebration This May! Recognizing the symptoms early can help you get the right diagnosis.