This question was asked to me by a good friend of mine. My immediate responce: "It hurts."
My friend had been getting a lot of knee pain recently and was curious if it was the beginning of arthritis. But then she asked me what the pain was like specifically. I couldn't answer. The brutal nature of that question made me realise I couldn't tell her what the pain was like. Even when I did find the right words, I cannot convey true feeling.
I think our true relation of pain ended at "sometimes it's very achy." I don't think she understood when I said "it can feel like tearing, pressure, stabbing, and even like I just had all my joints pulled apart." Actually, she looked at me in horror. At least she understood that that's how I feel; I've known people who rolled their eyes as they saw me limp by.
Everybody has different pain- they feel it uniquely and at varying degrees. No two people can answer "What does arthritis feel like?" in the same way. I mean, I didn't even touch upon the stiffness, fatigue or any other of that fun stuff! And it's not fair that we have a hard time helping people relate: sometimes, it seems just too difficult to explain or to show others it's true severity. There's so much in this disease that we can't really answer "what's it like," especially not in a crowded corridor with barely any time to explain. In a lot of ways, saying "it hurts" is an understatement. But honestly, what isn't painful in this disease?