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7 Things to Know About Arthritis

Arthritis is a great teacher. If you’ve got it, you learn to understand and be compassionate toward others who suffer from it. Here are 7 things you should know about the pain of arthritis.

7 ways to feel compassion for others in pain

I’ve often had empathy for others in pain, but have discovered it’s a different situation altogether when I am experiencing what they’re going through.

Like most people, I’ve had occasional aches and pains, but for the past few years, arthritis has become a constant companion—one I didn’t invite and one I don’t like. But even in that, there’s so much reason to be grateful. You see, following a serious car wreck 35 years ago, the doctor told me I’d have arthritis within a year. I made it 30+ years before I experienced daily pain. Such a huge blessing.

Read More: How One Woman’s Friendships Help Her Deal with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Since May is Arthritis Awareness Month, I thought this a good time to share some of what I’ve learned, to help you understand what affected folks go through (and these lessons can apply to many invisible illnesses):

1)  Arthritis hurts.
It’s something the person deals with daily, and it can make once-taken-for-granted moments like standing in line at the grocery store or cooking dinner a painful experience.

2)  It can be a lonely battle.
The pain can keep us from doing things we love, and on the really bad days, it can make us live an almost hermit-like existence. We might not verbalize it, but it hurts when we have to turn down invitations, or we can’t watch grandchildren for the day.

3)  The arthritis battle is often invisible.
Because many of us look so healthy, it’s hard for our friends and loved ones to truly understand that we can’t do things. Add weakness and fatigue to the pain, and even simple moments like buying a few groceries can become difficult. (And that’s why you sometimes see people with handicap parking permits even though they look healthy.)

4)  We try to hide it when we don’t feel good.
We don’t want people to think we’re lazy (and we’re not!) so we push to do normal activities, and then we pay the price physically for it.

5)  Arthritis impacts our daily lives in big ways.
It can keep us from doing activities that we love—and even things we don’t love . . . like housework.

6)  We sometimes feel guilty.
It’s bad enough when an illness impacts you, but when it also impacts those you love, it’s hard.

7)  Arthritis (and other invisible illnesses) teach us compassion in a bigger way.
We become more aware of helping others, of looking for ways to help make life easier for them. Our own pain reminds us to pray for them and enables us to be a comfort as we share how God has been faithful to us—even on the difficult days.

Read More: Praying Through the Pain

Does someone you love have arthritis (or another invisible illness)? A hug, a helping hand with practical issues like chores around the house, or the words “I’m praying for you” are guaranteed to help them feel better and make their day a whole lot brighter.

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