“It’s a condition you can’t see, which makes it hard for people to understand”

Sue stood in her living room holding her flute looking to camera.

Sue Patey, 59, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her mid-30s after having a number of sport injuries which affected her knees. 25 years later, the condition now affects her back, shoulders, hands and fingers. Sue has had several operations on her back and thumbs and is currently experiencing a lot of pain in her shoulders.

We asked her how she uses our help and advice to defy her condition.

Trying to manage an invisible condition

Sue says: “I’m not managing the pain very well. I have to take painkillers every morning and before I get in the shower or get dressed, but they only work 50 per cent of the time. I’m on high doses of morphine and codeine but I still struggle to do put my cardigan on and do up the buttons.

“When I’m having a bad day, all I want to do is cry. It’s a nightmare and I often wonder – how did I get here?

“It’s a condition that you can’t see, which makes it hard for people to understand what it’s like to live in constant pain. Sometimes, even health care professionals don’t understand.”

Getting support when nothing else works

“I’ve used the Versus Arthritis helpline many times. I call them when I don’t know what to do or if I’m struggling with the pain. It’s comforting to know there is someone on the end of the line who will listen and not make judgements about you. They can sympathise and suggest various ways to manage the pain.

“I think it's important to know your own limits. I know it’s hard but you have to pace yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do things and do not be afraid to ask for your help.

“Sometimes you have to accept that your condition will take away some of your independence. That’s why it’s important to ask for help – whether it’s your friends, family or the Versus Arthritis helpline.”

Contact us

We don’t want anyone with arthritis to feel like they’re alone in handling their condition. Call our helpline today or look through our advice to find the answers you need.