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When a disease that’s as painful and potentially debilitating as arthritis isn’t recognized as a disability, sufferers have no choice but to just grin and bear it.

On good days, that’s easy enough to do. But on bad days—this isn’t always the case.

Anyone who lives with arthritis can attest to the fact they don’t always have a choice about it. So in spite of their joints painfully grinding against each other; despite the discomfort of swollen hands or feet or limbs; no matter how bad they feel because of the symptoms, they simply go about their day as best as then can in excruciating pain.

Just because arthritis is a (near) invisible disease doesn’t mean it’s not real. And if you keep on reading, this article might help you understand what arthritis actually feels like—

You feel pain almost 24/7

There are over 100 conditions that can be classified as arthritis; and each one, will likely have its own host of symptoms. Pain however, is common for all of them. It can manifest itself in varying levels. Sometimes it starts out as a dull ache that you just can’t shake, other times it feels like a burning sensation through your joints.

For osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of the condition, joints become stiff and it becomes hard to move without pain or discomfort. For rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers, this is even worse as the stiffness and pain gradually worsens with time.

You kind of feel like you’re coming down with the flu

You know that feeling you get before you succumb to the flu? Your body aches all over; your limbs feel stiff and weak; your muscles are aching; and you feel really, really tired? Imagine feeling that everyday.

Most arthritis sufferers also have an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion simply because the pain keeps them up at night or wakes them up really early in the morning.

You never know what’s coming

For a lot of arthritis sufferers, it’s common for them to feel fine one minute and then, without warning, their body would succumb to all the symptoms of their condition. The gravity varies from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour. This is probably the reason why it’s so hard to make plans ahead of time—as you don’t really know what’s coming.

You feel isolated and alone

The physical toll that arthritis takes on your body results in reduced mobility. This makes it really hard for arthritis sufferers to get out of the house to socialize.

Most arthritis sufferers have no choice but to trudge through work or classes and that can take a lot out of them. Anything outside of their daily obligations can now seem like a big chore—not because they don’t enjoy it, but because having a couple of drinks out with friends after they’ve been already suffering through pain all day at the office is just too much for their body.

Eventually, arthritis sufferers find themselves withdrawing further and further to deal with their condition alone.

You feel like you have no control over anything anymore

Arthritis sufferers generally feel like they’ve lost control over their life. The primary symptoms alone are overwhelming enough, imagine having to deal with everything else that comes with it as well.

Studies show that arthritis raises the risk of other diseases and can affect your psychological state as well.

What can you do?

If you’re a caregiver, a friend or a relative of someone who suffers from arthritis, it’s important to remember that no one wants to deal with devastating health issues alone. And that’s exactly what arthritis is—it can be devastating.

It takes courage, discipline, patience and a lot of determination to get through it. A positive outlook definitely helps. Remember, you don’t have to cure your loved one’s arthritis. All they really need is someone to be there for them, on good days and bad.

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