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24 Things People With Arthritis Want You to Learn on World Arthritis Day

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October 12th is World Arthritis Day, so it is especially important today to raise awareness, correct misconceptions and promote education and understanding of those living with arthritis.

Although arthritis is commonly thought of as a condition that causes joint pain and stiffness in older adults, there are over 100 different types of arthritis (all of which cause unique types of pain and symptoms), and it can affect people of any age – including children and young adults.

For many, arthritis is a serious and sometimes debilitating condition that can have profound effects on nearly every aspect of a person’s life. Those who live with it are truly warriors deserving of respect, compassion and empathy – and the first step towards that is understanding what the illness is really like.

To shed some light on the reality of the daily battles those with arthritis face, we asked our Mighty community to share what they want others to know on World Arthritis Day.

Here’s what the community told us:

1. “I want people to know that arthritis can happen to anyone at any age in any part of the body. Just because I’m young and look capable doesn’t mean I am. Don’t say, ‘You’re too young to have arthritis/back pain!’ It can happen to anyone. Just be understanding and accepting.” – Courtney G.

2. “Many of us smile through our pain and symptoms. Just because we’re upbeat doesn’t mean it’s not affecting us.” – Tori Jo M.

3. “People are well-meaning when they run off lists of things to try to ‘get better.’ I can see how they think they’re being helpful. However, when people run off these lists it feels like they’re saying, ‘You aren’t doing enough to get better.’ The fact of the matter is, I will never be better. I will have psoriatic arthritis for the rest of my life. If this long list of things is in any way helpful, my doctor would have explored it as an option.” – Paigey P.

4. “People need to learn that there are more than 100 types of arthritis.” – Kristy R.

5. “Not every day is the same. Some days there is no limit to what I can do, other days I cannot get going because of the pain and inflammation. The needed rest I should have I do not always get. I ask for patience and understanding. It is not that I don’t want to – my body says ‘not today.’” – DonnaJeanne B.

6. “Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t always go away, and by age 53, that’s a long time to live with a progressive and painful disease.” – Danille W. M.

7. “I’m not just ‘stiff.’ It’s more than stiff – it’s this feeling of my bones being fused together. The pain when I move is agonizing. I can’t find a way to sleep at night because everything hurts. Arthritis doesn’t just bother your hands and knees. I have it throughout my spine. Arthritis isn’t just a small ache that bothers you when it’s cold outside – it’s a constant pain when you move. It isn’t like that time you tweaked your whatever bone – it’s a chronic illness we have to learn to live with.” – Lorena R.

8. “The drugs you go on can sometimes be just as uncomfortable as the arthritis itself. I was on injections of methotrexate from the time I was 14 until I was a junior in college and it made me extremely nauseated to the point of vomiting.” – Dani K.

9. “It’s mostly invisible. I can fix my look and I won’t look sick. But my body is in a constant battle and the pain is very real.” – Anna S. K.

10. “It is so much more than ‘arthritis.’ It infiltrated every single aspect of life, and almost every single part of [my] body.” – Kelly C. J.

11. “I have osteoarthritis. I’d want people to know that just because someone looks capable doesn’t mean they are. And if you see me wobbling around the grocery store trying to shop, don’t point and whisper about me. I am trying my hardest to just keep moving.” – Jennifer R.

12. “Not all arthritis is the same, and [it] can affect even young people.” – Jason W.

13. “Inflammatory arthritis feels like you have another life force inside you. It’s like living with an ‘alien’ in you, one that is trying to take over your life. It feels like your body is not your own anymore. I wake up and it feels like I’ve been hit by a bus.” – Laura R. T.

14. “Arthritis is not just an ‘elderly’ illness. It can happen at any age, to anyone, at any time. I want people to know that just because I’m young or I look fine does not mean my pain is less than that of someone older or that I don’t struggle. I am in pain every day. Small tasks are often an extreme effort. Ageism is alive and well, and needs to be put to rest. An illness is an illness, regardless of age. Pain is pain, regardless of appearance. And strength is strength, no matter how weak I may feel.” – Jorie L.

15. “Arthritis has no cure. For [many] of us who can’t take NSAIDs, little can be done about the pain. I was diagnosed with arthritis in my back at age 18, now I will be in pain the rest of my life.” – Kate A.

16. “Fatigue isn’t laziness or an excuse to get out of a previous commitment. Sometimes I can’t go places because I can’t even lift my arms to wash my hair let alone the rest of the exhausting work involved in getting ready.” – Laurie K.

17. “I know it’s hard to believe that someone so young and healthy-looking could have arthritis, but I do. I got diagnosed years ago, and it really bothers me when I hear young people casually use the word arthritis to describe any temporary joint pain (including that from injury or overexertion) they experience. When you invite me to do something physically active, please imagine asking it of your 80-year-old grandmother, and then adjust your expectations for me accordingly.” – Emilie B.

18. “I wish people understood that just because I can do something one day doesn’t mean I can do it the next day. Also, if I overdo it today I am in pain for the next week!” – Jessica L. B.

19. “Just cause I am overweight does not mean it’s what is causing my pain or my symptoms! It doesn’t help, but it’s not the source! I, like so many others, was born with arthritis. It’s a circle that keeps each affecting the other.” – Tori Jo M.

20. “There’s only one thing I want people to know: Children have arthritis, too! I cannot stress that enough.” – Ellie W.

21. “Pains change almost daily! [It’s] multifactoral… depends on weather, foods I eat, stressful situations causing anxiety, if sleep deprived, taking meds, not taking meds, etc., etc.! Each day brings a new challenge.” – Inga L.

22. “I want people to be aware that arthritis isn’t defined by age. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 18 after struggling to receive a diagnosis for my pain and swelling that started at 16. Also, I might look ‘normal’ on the outside, but in reality my immune system is attacking my own body. My days are unpredictable. Some will be good and some will be bad, and on the days where I really can’t find the strength to spend much time out of bed, I’m not just choosing to be lazy.” – Miranda M.

23. “You’re never ‘too young’ to have arthritis.” — Carrie P.

24. “The one thing I’d like people to understand is the strength I have to keep living. At one point I lost my ability to walk and I no longer take that for granted. I hate this disease, but it’s shown me how to appreciate the little things I can still do because I don’t know what the future holds. As much as it scares me, this disease has also brought out a strength in me I didn’t know I had. So I may be weaker physically but there’s a fire in me that nothing can put out.” – Lacie M.

Originally published: October 12, 2017
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