Rheumatoid Arthritis: What NOT to say to someone who lives with it

Rheumatoid Arthritis: What NOT to say to someone who lives with it

If you know someone who has Rheumatoid Arthritis, you may try to offer help or sympathize.  However, before making a comment or saying something about their condition, you better avoid these phrases as they may sound offensive or judgemental to them. 

“You are too young to have Rheumatoid Arthritis”

Theoretically, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body mistakes healthy tissues and attacks them. Many people may think RA is similar to Osteoarthritis. However, Osteoarthritis is not caused by the same factor and more about the “wear and tear” of the joint by time, commonly found in elder people. 

RA can be found in women, men, and children of all ages, affecting hands, shoulders, knees, and/or feet with severe joint pain and stiffness. In short, RA is not a discriminatory disease. 

“You don’t look sick”

Rheumatoid Arthritis is usually described as an “invisible” illness. This chronic illness is, unfortunately, not curable. Patients can experience periods of remission with little pain or RA can flare up with no warning or reason. Many times it can be super painful to simply get out of bed or tie the shoes. Many times, people living with arthritis can be mistaken for being “better” although, in fact, they only feel less miserable or painful in their joints. 

“I think you will get better”

As explained above, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an ongoing condition, there are just days with either severe or less pain. Although this phrase has good intentions and people tend to use it when someone feels unwell or in pain, the other person may find it unsympathetic. Try offering some help if they need it.

“Be on a diet and lose weight, it will help”

Let’s be straightforward, losing weight does not eventually help to cure Rheumatoid Arthritis. If someone having RA is overweight or obese, losing weight might only reduce some stressed weight on the joint or make them feel a bit better generally. However, it does not cure this autoimmune disease. 

“Oh, my knee is hurting too”

RA patients often deal with joint pain and fatigue and do not mention much about it unless it is so bad or beginning to disable them. If they tell you they are in pain, they are not exaggerating. However, assuming that you are going through the same even though you are not diagnosed with RA is indirectly dismissing their pain. In other words, you make them feel weak or foolish when they mention their struggle. 

In order to show that you acknowledge the other person’s pain, ask if you can help them with anything. By doing that, you also show how much you care and are willing to help if you can. 

“You can’t do this, you will be in pain”

Having arthritis does make it difficult for patients to perform many activities. However, it may upset them if people try to completely prevent them from doing even simple things. They are in pain, but their body still can function and no one wants to be left out just because of their illness. 

In this case, ask them: “Do you feel up to doing ___ today?” instead of assuming that they cannot do it. 

“Have you tried yoga?”

One of the most common misconceptions is that yoga is good for everyone with RA because it includes stretching. It may work for some, but not everyone. They don’t have weak joints, the root of the problem is in their blood and it attacks the joints. Therefore, putting lots of weight on inflamed joints, whether it is in the wrist, knee, or shoulder, etc., is not helping at all. 


So, how can you offer help?

Due to Rheumatoid Arthritis, your close ones will experience physical pain and it will impact their lifestyle, mental health a lot. However, there are several ways that you can do to help them reduce inflammation, for example, planning suitable exercises together (such as yoga, light stretches, aerobic, etc.), stress-reduction activities (eg. meditation), reminding them to take medication on time or suggest them to use smart pill reminder to always remember their meds and reduce inflammation. 


Popit collaborates with Pfizer to improve the adherence of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. After studying rheumatoid arthritis patients’ treatment journey, Pfizer discovered that they do not receive sufficient support in order to cope with the condition. Therefore, this collaboration targets encouraging the patient’s medication treatment and gives them less stress about forgetting their pill. Popit Smart Pill Reminder can be purchased here; Popit App, delivery fee are all included.


Resource: Healthline, Creakyjoint