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Treating Psoriatic Arthritis

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10 Tips for Protecting Joints With Psoriatic Arthritis

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Evelyn Creekmore on May 1, 2022
  • Older African American woman kneeling down working in garden
    Keeping Joints Healthy with Small Changes
    As a chronic inflammatory condition, psoriatic arthritis can take a heavy toll on your joints over time. You may have accepted pain, swelling, and stiffness as par for the course—but you don’t have to. You can tweak your routine in many ways to reduce your pain and protect your joints for the long haul. Many people benefit from simply switching up how they sit or handle everyday objects. Get ideas that can help you, too.
  • Finger splint
    1. Use splints.
    “Splinting” specific joints such as those in your thumb or wrist can help reduce the joint inflammation that causes pain. It can also help with alignment and stability issues. A splint can come in many forms, but at its core, it’s a piece of hard material on which you can rest your joint; it keeps your joint from moving. Ask your doctor if splinting is right for you. If you do use splints, make sure you take them off regularly and do some gentle range of motion exercises to maintain ease of movement. Some people wear splints only at night or while performing essential, joint-stressing tasks.
  • young Caucasian woman applying cold compress to hand
    2. Apply hot and cold therapy.
    Alternating cold packs and moist heat packs can help ease your joint pain. Cold helps reduce swelling and numbs joints. Heat reduces swelling and relaxes your muscles. In lieu of cold packs, you can use ice wrapped in a towel or a bag of frozen vegetables. In lieu of heat packs, you can try a heating pad, a hot water bottle, or a warm shower, bath, or towel. Take care that the heat you apply isn’t hot enough to burn you.
  • smiling woman sitting at table with laptop in a room painted blue
    3. Switch positions to protect joints.
    As you sit at work or home—or drive—be aware of how long you stay in one position. Shifting often can help reduce pressure on your joints and lessen fatigue in your muscles. Pay close attention to your posture, too. Work on sitting and standing up straight without arching your back. As you shift, avoid twisting or settling into unnatural angles. The more mindful you become of your position, the easier it will be to recognize a bad one.
  • mature woman walking through park wearing glasses and carrying shoulder bag
    4. Favor larger joints.
    Larger joints like the ones in your shoulders and hips can handle more pressure than smaller joints like the ones in your fingers. Where could you adjust which joints you use? Give the following substitutions a try. Hold plates from the bottom with both your palms instead of holding the sides with your fingers. Carry bags with shoulder straps instead of hand straps. Use your hip to close a drawer and your hip or shoulder to push a door open.
  • man cooking food on stove
    5. Loosen your grip.
    If psoriatic arthritis affects your hands, using a looser grip can help you avoid knuckle pain. Think of all the objects that “require” a tight grip: pens, knives and forks, pots and pans, combs and hair brushes, and more. Look for options with wider surfaces or padded handles that let you loosen up. Think of other things you grip out of habit that you may not need to. You can turn lights on and off, for example, with your palm instead of your fingers.
  • Man lifting box
    6. Lift and handle with care.
    You probably already know to bend your knees instead of your back when you lift something. That’s not the only move that can help protect your joints. Use both hands instead of just one. Hug what you’re lifting with your arms, redistributing some of the weight from your hand and wrist joints to your elbow and shoulder joints. Don’t lift boxes when you don’t have to. Open them with scissors and unpack small things one at a time.
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  • Unseen man making red salad dressing in blender
    7. Look for strength-saving household helpers.
    Wheels, long handles, and electricity are all friends to those with psoriatic arthritis. Once you start looking for options that will make your life easier, you’ll likely be surprised at how many are available. Consider suitcases, laptop bags, and even laundry baskets on wheels. Try household cleaning tools, from scrubbers to brooms and dustpans, with longer handles to limit bending. Splurge on food processers, choppers, and electric can openers if you can.
  • Man exercising in the house
    8. Exercise regularly.
    Range-of-motion, strength training, and low-impact aerobic exercises can help ease stiffness in your joints, improve your flexibility, and better your balance. Talk with your doctor about an appropriate exercise program for you. When you have psoriatic arthritis, the wrong kind of exercise can make your symptoms worse. It’s often recommended that people with this condition adopt exercise gradually, working up from 5 to 10 minutes of exercise a day to 30 minutes of exercise a day, 3 to 5 days a week.
  • man-having-knee-checked-out-by-doctor
    9. Explore occupational therapy.
    You don’t have to come up with all the ways to ease your pain on your own. Occupational therapy helps people with psoriatic arthritis learn new ways to go about work and life tasks with less joint stress. Therapeutic strategies aim to conserve energy by eliminating wasted movement, encourage regular breaks, and introduce relaxation techniques. Occupational therapy also provides emotional support and advocacy in seeking reasonable accommodations from employers when it comes to your environment and job duties.
  • woman-giving-herself-a-shot
    10. Find the right treatment.
    Many medications for psoriatic arthritis are specifically developed to reduce inflammation around the joints to keep them stronger, longer. Newer biologic therapies, which are derived from living organisms, can get to the root of your inflammation and ease pain while also protecting joints. And other options are available, as well. Talk to your doctor about necessary steps to keep your joints healthy and manage your psoriatic arthritis effectively. Everyone’s experience with psoriatic arthritis is different, and your doctor will take your specific case into account when determining the best treatment for you.
Keeping Joints Healthy | Tips for Psoriatic Arthritis
1. Psoriatic Arthritis. Cleveland Clinic.
2. Psoriatic Arthritis: Management and Treatment. Cleveland Clinic.
3. How to stay active while protecting your joints. National Psoriasis Foundation.
Occupational therapy and psoriatic arthritis. The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance.
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Last Review Date: 2022 May 1
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.