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Mention arthritis and you typically picture people in their 70s or 80s. After all, it is a condition that’s normally spurred by old age. But younger people—those in their 20s or 30s—can also suffer from this debilitating condition. And while it is reasonably rare among this age group, it is possible.

But as if suffering from chronic pain isn’t bad enough, dealing with an “old person’s disease” at the prime of you life can be made even more difficult given the misconceptions surrounding the condition. Commonly people don’t believe you. Most will assume it’s not as bad as you say it is because of your age. It’s hard to find people who can relate to what you’re going through. And ultimately, it makes you feel alone and isolated.

If you’re a younger person with arthritis, we wanted to let you know that there are better ways to cope. Start with the following—

1. Try to find other people who share your condition

When you suffer from arthritis and you’re only in your 20s or 30s you miss out on a lot. Your condition prevents you from engaging in activities that the typical young person is able to do. In such cases, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone in all of this.

Try to find support groups specifically for young people who suffer from arthritis. Talk to you doctor to refer you to the right resources.

2. Be realistic about your limits

Your age could make you think that you can do more than your body will actually let you. This is why it’s important to understand your limitations. While it’s frustrating that you can’t do everything you want to, understanding your limits prevents you from worsening your condition or putting your joints through unnecessary stress.

3. Surround yourself with supportive friends

Suffering from chronic illness is no joke.  The physical and emotional toll it can take on you can be overwhelming and it’s important that you surround yourself with people who will be a positive influence in your life.

Understandably, not all people within your age group will know the severity of what you’re going through. But given your condition, it’s also reasonable to expect them to make an effort to understand what it means to live with arthritis. Avoid surrounding yourself with people who accuse you of faking your illness or who assume that you’re exaggerating your symptoms.

4. Cut back on alcohol

Drinking and partying are a big part of the 20s lifestyle. But if you suffer from chronic pain conditions, it’s important that you try to avoid alcohol. Not only does it exacerbate pain symptoms, it can also have adverse effects on your medication. Not to say that you should completely remove alcohol from your diet, but nor can you recklessly spend weekends binge drinking. Pace yourself and limit yourself to drinking in moderation.

5. Remember to take your medication

Between school or work and a thriving social life, it’s hard to keep track of one of the most important things about maintaining your condition—taking your medication regularly. Create a system that will ensure you take your medicine regularly and on time. Maybe use pill containers marked with days of the week or set alarms for it.

It’s always good to remember that despite how rare it is to have arthritis at such a young age, you’re not going through this alone. Keep these guidelines in mind and feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions about your condition. 

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