When someone you love is coping with a chronic condition like arthritis, you may feel a range of emotions. Mostly, you feel compassion for them and wish you could take their pain away.

But sometimes you may also feel disappointed or frustrated with them too, like when they bail on plans you made with them—again.

In addition to joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis also can cause fatigue, stiffness, and even loss of appetite.
Read more:
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms

To love and support someone with arthritis, it’s important to understand not just the causes and symptoms of their condition, but how it affects their day-to-day lives.

Here's what someone with arthritis might want you to know about the daily challenges of their life:

  • Understand that my symptoms can come and go, and I have to adjust to how I'm feeling day-to-day. Don’t assume that if I was capable of a 20-minute walk last week, I will be today.
  • Read: How Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Causes Fatigue

  • If I’m having a tough day, with lots of pain or not much energy, ask if you can help. I may find it very helpful for you to assist by cooking a meal or running an errand.
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  • Don’t be mad if I’m drowsy or having a hard time focusing. My condition disrupts my sleep sometimes.
  • See Coping with Chronic Pain and Insomnia

  • Please be patient. I may be coping with pain or depression and it’s affecting my mood. Or I may be trying to hide it. But don't assume everything is okay even if I sometimes act like it.
  • See Chronic Arthritis Pain and Depression

  • I may not be able to explain exactly why or how I’m in pain. Chronic pain can be very mysterious, but it’s real.
  • Read: How to Understand Chronic Pain vs. Acute Pain

  • Don't offer me tips about “cures” for my condition. Trust that my doctor and I are working together to decide the best course of treatment for me.
  • I know that activity is good for my condition, and I try to do it when I can. You can offer to accompany me on a walk or an errand, but don't push me if I'm really not up to it.

If you yourself have arthritis, you know the challenges of living with it well enough. But you may have a hard time articulating them to others in your life.

If that's the case, this article can be a good resource to share with family and friends. It can be a conversation starter, which can lead to better understanding between you and your loved ones.

Learn more:

Coping with RA Fatigue Using Therapy and Emotional Support

12 Ways to Cope with Chronic Pain and Depression