Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) affects the joints. It can also cause pain, swelling, and skin changes. People with PsA experience a cycle of symptoms that includes flare-ups and periods of remission.
Some medications can help slow joint damage and relieve symptoms of PsA. These are called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.
Performing simple exercises, such as wrist bends and arm circles daily, helps keep joints flexible and prevents stiffness. This can reduce fatigue, improve sleep and mood, and reduce how often you need to use over-the-counter pain relievers.
People with psoriatic arthritis may experience swollen joints and reduced range of motion, which can affect their ability to move around and lead to a loss of functional independence. A fitness program tailored to the specific needs of a person with psoriatic arthritis can help reduce these symptoms, increase mobility, and improve general physical function.
When starting an exercise routine or increasing your time exercising, it’s essential to start slowly and listen to your body. If you are experiencing a flare-up, it’s best to take a break and try again later.
A good therapist can guide you through low-impact and gentle exercises on your joints. For example, water-based exercises are gentler than high-impact exercises like running, and walking is a great low-impact activity that can be done at any fitness level.
It’s also a good idea to consult with a fitness professional if you’re new to resistance training since it can be easy to overdo it and cause injury. Strength training can help build strong muscles, which can support your joints. Mind-body practices, such as yoga, pilates, qi gong, and tai chi, have also improved balance and flexibility in people with psoriatic arthritis.
Living with psoriatic arthritis can affect your emotional and mental health. It can affect your relationships, making you feel sad or hopeless. If this happens, talk to your rheumatologist as soon as possible. They can signpost you to valuable services or prescribe antidepressants if needed.
Taking steps to improve your mood can also help you manage your pain and inflammation. It would help to spend time on relaxing activities like walking, practicing yoga, or meditating. You can also do things to boost your mood, such as spending time with friends and family or joining a psoriatic arthritis support group. Doing this lets you make new acquaintances to discuss how to deal with life daily. Stress is a common trigger for symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and can contribute to a cycle of increased pain, inflammation, and edema. Various stress management methods, including yoga, meditation, prayer, or journaling, can be used. You can learn to use these techniques in your daily routine or when stressed.
Changing your diet can be beneficial for psoriatic arthritis and general wellness. You should avoid pro-inflammatory foods, such as alcohol, caffeine, and sugar, and eat lots of nutritious food. Add fish, nuts, fruits, and vegetables to your meals. You should also eat more fiber to help keep your digestive system working well.
A massage isn’t just for relaxation—it can also improve psoriatic arthritis symptoms by increasing the flow of blood, which brings oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout the body. It also helps the body eliminate waste products, such as carbon dioxide and excess water, to prevent toxins from building up in the tissues.
Orbai says people with psoriatic arthritis should tell their message therapist about their condition and symptoms before getting a massage to ensure they don’t trigger a flare-up. They should also check with their rheumatologist or doctor about what types of massage are safe and effective. For example, someone who has a form of psoriatic arthritis called joint-destroying disease might not want to have deep tissue or sports massages because they could lead to the destruction of small bones in the fingers and hands.
Aside from the physical benefits, massage can help with stress, a common psoriasis trigger, and relieve anxiety and depression. It can boost the production of feel-good brain chemicals, such as serotonin.
If you have psoriatic arthritis, prescription medications will likely be a big part of your treatment plan.
Using needles to stimulate pressure points around the body, this ancient practice relieves pain for many health problems. Research shows it may help ease the joint pain of psoriatic arthritis. Acupuncture is often combined with other mind-body treatments, such as massage and stress management, to help alleviate pain.
Some researchers believe that acupuncture triggers the release of chemicals, including natural painkillers, in the brain. This may explain why a few sessions can result in significant relief for some people. The pain reduction from acupuncture is often permanent.
Acupuncturists use various techniques to treat the pain and other symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. One is guided imagery, which involves focusing on the part of the body in pain and trying to change the sensation to something else, such as a feeling of calmness. Another technique called biofeedback uses sensors to monitor your body functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It helps you learn to control those functions by changing your thoughts and behaviors.
Acupuncture has been shown to improve the symptoms of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, but it isn’t a cure-all for either condition. If you try acupuncture, talk with your healthcare provider and ensure your insurance or a flexible spending account covers it.