Treating Psoriatic Arthritis

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9 Habits That Are Bad for Psoriatic Arthritis

  • smiling young male
    Make positive choices to manage psoriatic arthritis.
    Many people diagnosed with psoriasis eventually develop psoriatic arthritis, a chronic condition resulting in inflammation, stiffness, swelling, and pain in the joints throughout your body. And while there are many effective treatments available, getting a handle on psoriatic arthritis isn’t just about taking medications. Lifestyle changes can help reduce inflammation, prevent joint damage, and manage your symptoms. But while it’s important to introduce new positive habits into your life, it’s also key to learn which patterns and activities could be making your psoriatic arthritis worse. Take a look at your daily routine and try to identify which habits you should kick to the curb.

  • Man on Bed With Head In Hands
    1. Ignoring the problem.
    Because psoriatic arthritis affects joints throughout your body, the condition may cause many kinds of symptoms, like stiff joints, swollen fingers and toes, and foot pain. But many symptoms come and go, and they may get worse over time. It can be easy to think it’s no big deal if you only have a little pain, but any symptoms of psoriatic arthritis shouldn’t be ignored. Psoriatic arthritis inflammation can damage your joints, and at some point, that damage can be hard to reverse. The sooner you see your doctor about your symptoms, the sooner treatment can begin, and the sooner you can heal your joints and prevent further problems.

  • pill-organizer
    2. Not taking your medication.
    Your doctor may recommend one or several medications for managing psoriatic arthritis. If your doctor writes you a prescription, be sure to fill it and take the medication exactly as prescribed. Missing doses can make symptoms like pain and swelling worse, and may also cause further joint damage. If you’re having trouble remembering to take your medication, it can be helpful to set reminders on your smartphone or invest in a pill organizer. And if you’re skipping your meds because the side effects are hard to tolerate, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about it. There are lots of options available, and if one doesn’t work for you, it’s likely another might.

  • Friends having wine at restaurant
    3. Drinking too much alcohol.
    Consuming too much alcohol has been shown to increase inflammation throughout the body. If you live with psoriatic arthritis, increased inflammation may make your condition worse. Also, one of the most commonly prescribed medications for psoriatic arthritis—methotrexate—may cause scarring of the liver (liver cirrhosis), which is much more likely if you drink. Let your doctor know if you plan to quit drinking so you can do so as safely as possible.

  • woman smoking
    4. Smoking.
    It’s not good for anyone to smoke, but it’s especially bad if you live with psoriatic arthritis. As with alcohol, smoking leads to greater inflammation throughout the body, which may make your symptoms worse. And if you smoke, you may not respond as well to some types of medications. Research shows that certain biologic drugs, which target the root of inflammation causing psoriatic arthritis, may not work as well if you smoke regularly.

  • Woman freestyling in pool
    5. Skipping exercise.
    Regular exercise is key to keeping joints healthy and managing your weight, which can also affect the severity of psoriatic arthritis. In general, try to exercise at a moderate level for at least 150 minutes every week. Strength training can help build up muscles that support your joints, making them less painful. And other exercises, like walking, swimming, and biking, are low impact and can help reduce joint stiffness and pain.

  • burger-and-fries
    6. Eating an unhealthy diet.
    Certain foods trigger inflammation and should be avoided if you are undergoing psoriatic arthritis treatment. Plus, many of these inflammation-causing foods can contribute to weight gain, which places additional strain on your joints. You already know that alcohol should be avoided—try to also stay away from processed meats and foods, sugary drinks and soda, white bread and rice, fried foods, and candy. Instead, choose inflammation-fighting foods, such as vegetables, beans, and fish.

  • man-curled-up-in-bed-having-trouble-sleeping
    7. Not getting enough sleep.
    A good night’s rest is important for regulating many hormones and proteins that fight inflammation. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Any less than this and you could be more stressed, less willing to exercise, and more likely to develop other problems like obesity which make psoriatic arthritis worse. For better sleep, try creating a bedtime routine and avoiding electronic devices before bed.

  • Happy family of four at park during autumn
    8. Wearing uncomfortable clothing.
    Looking your best can really help boost confidence, but it’s important to wear the right kind of clothes if you live with psoriatic arthritis. In general, choose clothing that isn’t too tight, since this helps prevent rubbing and scratching. Also, be sure your shoes are fitted to your feet and comfortable, especially if you have foot pain. And never wear clothing that is binding or that constricts blood circulation. If your psoriatic arthritis affects your fingers, look into adaptive clothing that uses velcro instead of buttons or zippers.

  • portrait-of-stressed-man
    9. Carrying a lot of stress.
    Living with psoriatic arthritis can be stressful, but it’s important to find healthy ways to cope. If you’re too stressed for too long, you may have a flare-up of psoriatic arthritis. Activities like meditation, Tai chi, and listening to music all work to help calm your body and mind. You can also try other stress-relieving techniques, such as deep breathing, walking, and joining a support group.

Psoriatic Arthritis & Lifestyle | Managing Psoriatic Arthritis

About The Author

Sarah Handzel began writing professionally in 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and worked as a registered nurse in multiple specialties, including pharmaceuticals, operating room/surgery, endocrinology, and family practice. With over nine years of clinical practice experience, Sarah has worked with clients including Healthgrades, Mayo Clinic, Aha Media Group, Wolters Kluwer, and UVA Cancer Center.
  1. National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times. National Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times
  2. Psoriatic arthritis. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354076
  3. Psoriatic Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/psoriatic-arthritis
  4. Psoriatic Arthritis: Which Foods are Triggers and Which are Suppressants? Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network. https://www.rheumatoidarthritis.org/psoriatic-arthritis/diet/
  5. Treatments for Psoriatic Disease. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/treatments-for-psoriatic-disease/
  6. Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall, Otrexup, Rasuvo). American College of Rheumatology. https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Treatments/Methotrexate-Rheumatrex-Trexall
  7. Alcohol Intake and Risk of Incident Psoriatic Arthritis in Women. Journal of Rheumatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4600066/
  8. Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep (And How Much You Really Need a Night). Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/happens-body-dont-get-enough-sleep/
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Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 15
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.
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