Managing Psoriatic Arthritis

If you have psoriasis, a progressive autoimmune condition that causes a painful rash, swelling and redness along with scales on your skin, you have a 30% chance of developing psoriatic arthritis (PsA). As a chronic inflammatory disease, PsA disease can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in any joint in the body – such as the feet, knee and fingers – and signs typically appear between the ages of 30 and 50.

With psoriatic arthritis, your body’s immune system attacks joint tissues, causing inflammation. The causes of PsA disease are not completely understood, but many people who suffer from PsA disease also have a family history of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Injury and infections are also thought to trigger the disease.

Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms

The most common symptoms of PsA disease are painful, warm, stiff and swollen joints. With psoriatic arthritis, hands, feet, knees and lower back may be especially affected. Range of motion is also typically reduced, and psoriatic arthritis symptoms can also include fatigue along with changes to the fingernails and toenails, such as dimpling or pulling away from the nail bed. Additionally, eye pain, redness and blurry vision can also happen as a result of inflammation in the eyes.

Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosis

PsA disease is sometimes confused with other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, since symptoms are similar. For this reason, it’s important to see a doctor for proper diagnosis. Your doctor may perform blood tests, an MRI, X-rays and a physical exam to provide a diagnosis.

Treatment and Strategies for Managing Symptoms

Though there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, treatment can help you maintain your quality of life and keep symptoms manageable. The following strategies for managing symptoms can help:

Follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Even if you’re feeling well, follow your physician’s orders for taking prescribed medications and other interventions. This can help reduce the incidence of flare-ups. See a rheumatologist for specialized care of psoriatic arthritis.

Educate yourself. By learning as much as you can about psoriatic arthritis, you’ll be better able to identify the symptoms of the disease and take steps to alleviate them.

Keep a log. Making note every day of what you eat, how much sleep and exercise you get, and how much stress you experience can help you identify your PsA disease triggers. With this insight, you can make adjustments to your lifestyle to improve symptoms and avoid flare-ups.

Manage stress. Everyday stress and chronic anxiety can trigger psoriatic arthritis symptoms in some people. Practice relaxation strategies, such as meditation, hobbies, yoga and other activities you enjoy to help reduce stress. If these steps are not enough, seek professional help.

Get enough sleep. Your body is better able to restore itself when it is well rested, so be sure to get plenty of sleep, about seven to nine hours each night.

Find support. Having people in your life, from those who live with you to an online community of people who share your struggles, can help you find resources and manage living with psoriatic arthritis. Social media support groups are a great option for connecting with others for sharing insight, while building an in-person social circle to turn to for support is also essential.

When To See a Doctor

If you have yet to receive a diagnosis of or treatment for psoriatic arthritis but are experiencing symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. And if you’re under the care of a physician for PsA disease but are finding that your symptoms are not well managed, schedule a visit to adjust your treatment plan.

Psoriatic arthritis can be a very painful and debilitating condition, but it is unlikely to directly create the need for emergency care. However, medications used in the treatment of PsA can cause allergic or adverse reactions – and, if unmanaged, the condition can cause disability that can lead to falls and other accidents. For that reason, it’s important to keep in mind where you’ll seek emergency care when and if you need it. At Avail Hospital, we’re here to provide skilled, compassionate care for you in any emergency.

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