8 Things Not To Say To Someone Who Rheumatoid Arthritis

(1) My grandmother (or great aunt or other old person I know) has Rheumatoid Arthritis too.

More likely than not, your grandmother has osteoarthritis (OA). While potentially painful and life-changing, OA is not the same as autoimmune forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile arthritis (JA). Autoimmune arthritis occurs when a person’s own immune system mistakenly beat healthy joints. These types of arthritis are systemic, lifelong conditions with no treatment. Personally it does not make me feel any better when someone tells me about a relative who has a completely different condition than I do!

(2) You are too young to have arthritis.:The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA), occurs when the cartilage between joints breaks down over time. Because this type of arthritis often worsens with age, it has created the stereotype that only old people get arthritis

3) But you don’t look sick!:Autoimmune forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile arthritis (JA), are often invisible illnesses. A person may not show any outward signs of living with daily pain and fatigue. But someone who looks perfectly healthy may still be experiencing flare-ups of inflammation and pain or dealing with fatigue. Like other chronic diseases, RA and JA may fluctuate in severity from day to day, but it never goes away completely. I always try to put on a brave face for the world, but that doesn’t mean I’m not in pain on any given day.

(4) Have you tried a gluten-free (or vegan or casein-free or nightshade-free) diet?:Unfortunately, treating RA is just not as simple as eating or not eating a certain food. While some people have found that following a particular diet may improve their RA symptoms, there is no scientific evidence to recommend any particular type of diet to treat RA. So while alternative diets are certainly worth a try, there’s no guarantee that they will help. For example, I tried being gluten-free for six months without any impact on my RA symptoms.

(5) Have you tried glucosamine (or chondroitin sulfate or other natural supplement)?:Just as there is no particular diet that will cure RA, there is no natural supplement that is guaranteed to help with RA symptoms. In fact, most supplements that are generally recommended for arthritis – such as glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate – have only been studied in terms of their impact on OA, not RA. I personally take a fish oil supplement because there is some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may help naturally decrease inflammation in the body. I figure this is worth a try, but it certainly has not cured my RA.