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Treating Psoriatic Arthritis

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5 Self-Care Tips for Psoriatic Arthritis

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Man running with Boston skyline in background

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis that can cause joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. It affects up to 30% of people with psoriasis, a condition that causes red, scaly, raised patches of skin known as plaques to form on the body. Although effective treatments are available to treat both conditions, living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can be difficult at times. Psoriasis plaques can be uncomfortable and unsightly, causing individuals to feel embarrassed and self-conscious. Chronic joint pain and stiffness can prevent people from accomplishing everyday tasks, going to work or school, and caring for their families. Facing these obstacles can be overwhelming and stressful; in fact, depression and anxiety are common among people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. However, there are many strategies and tools available to improve your quality of life and general state of mind despite these conditions. In addition to getting the right treatment, taking the time to care for yourself in little (and big) ways can make a significant difference.

1. Be as active as you can.

When you’re in pain, it can be tempting to stay on the couch and avoid too much movement. However, physical activity can make a great impact on your psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Add moderate exercise into your daily routine, particularly low-impact aerobic exercise like walking or swimming, to improve your range of motion, reduce pain and stiffness, increase flexibility, and build up endurance. Plus, exercise has the added benefit of promoting weight loss, which can make psoriatic arthritis more manageable, as excess weight puts stress on your joints. Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine, and don’t push it if you’re experiencing extreme pain or discomfort.

5 Tips For People With Psoriatic Arthritis From People with Psoriatic Arthritis

2. Give your body the nutrients it needs.

One symptom of psoriatic arthritis is chronic fatigue, which can be demoralizing and sometimes debilitating. Fight the fatigue by following a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, and low in sugar, fat, and salt. Eating junk foods can increase your exhaustion, while consuming fresh, healthy meals can improve energy levels. Plus, a healthy diet can help you lose weight, reducing the burden on your joints and improving pain symptoms. In addition, try to limit alcohol consumption, since it can interfere with your medications or increase the side effects.

3. Learn stress-reduction techniques.

Living with a chronic disease like psoriatic arthritis can be quite stressful—and excess stress can make symptoms worse and trigger flare-ups. To better manage your mental health as well as your psoriatic arthritis, make a point to add some stress-reducing strategies to your toolbox. When your anxiety is ramping up, try listening to a guided meditation or a relaxing song, go for a walk, call a friend, confide in a support group, or practice yoga. It can be hard to find the time for these activities, but keep in mind managing your stress is an important part of treating your psoriatic arthritis.

4. Care for your skin.

People with psoriatic arthritis tend to also experience psoriasis symptoms. Whether you have plaques all over your body or just in specific areas, make skincare a priority. Keep skin moisturized by using unscented lotions and creams—and always slather on moisturizer after bathing or swimming. Use minimal soap as you wash your body, as soaps tend to dry out the skin. Wear loose-fitting clothes made of natural, soft fabrics like cotton to avoid skin irritation and discomfort. And of course, always take your psoriasis medication as prescribed.

5. Take time for yourself.

Psoriatic arthritis can make the tasks of daily living painful, time-consuming, and difficult. That’s why it’s important to intentionally bring joy into your life when you can. Replenish your strength and determination by doing an activity you love, whether it’s reading a book, spending time with family and friends, getting back to an old hobby, journaling, or enjoying the company of a favorite pet. Don’t let the stresses of everyday life get in the way of taking this time to recharge—even if you spend just 15 minutes a day focusing on yourself and your needs, that short break is likely to improve your mood and overall quality of life.

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  1. Psoriatic Arthritis Self Care. Arthritis Foundation.
  2. Psoriatic arthritis. Mayo Clinic.
  3. About Psoriatic Arthritis. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  4. Physical
    Activity and Psoriatic Arthritis. National Psoriasis Foundation.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2022 Sep 23
View All Treating Psoriatic Arthritis Articles
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