Tackling Everyday Life With Arthritis: Patient Struggles and Strategies

Arthritis pain can feel isolating, but you are far from alone.
It is difficult for nonsufferers to imagine the degree to which a chronic and debilitating condition like arthritis can turn everyday activities into sources of embarrassment, shame, and even inadequacy. For people living with the challenge everyday, there is some comfort in hearing how others experience and cope with chronic pain.

Starting your day
Many patients begin their day with the thought, "I can't get out of bed."

"A typical day for me," says Debra Fisher, 52, of Pittsburgh, "is I get up in the morning and eventually sit on the edge of the bed. I have to sit there for a minute because my feet are so swollen, and that's just from being in bed. Then I just have to stand there for a minute and get my bearings. My hands are really puffy and my joints really ache, like a toothache. And then I just start moving."

Don't Let Arthritis Ruin Your Sex Life
Ways to stay intimate, stay active, and even relieve pain  Read more
"The hardest thing to me was getting into the car," says Glenn, 54, from Chappaqua, N.Y.

"I used to go out five minutes before my wife and daughter because I didn't want them to see me psych myself up for the pain of swinging my legs into the car. It would take five minutes! Some mornings I just said to myself, 'I don't want to do this.' I dreaded it, it hurt so damn much."

For some, it can be the little things that become huge obstacles. For Joanne, 72, of Cape Cod, Mass., it's opening jars and bottles. "Sometimes I leave them out for my cleaning lady or somebody like that to open." If sitting was hard, sometimes Roberts would simply work standing up. "There was a ledge in my office that I could use instead of sitting at a desk."

123 Next
Lead writer: Suzanne Levy
Last Updated: April 27, 2008

Updates, news, special offers, and expert tips to stop aches and pains from interrupting your life.

More Ways to Connect with Health