How To Prevent Psoriatic Arthritis

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Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation and pain in the skin and joints (the part of your body where two bones make contact). Like most autoimmune conditions, PsA occurs when the immune system becomes overactive and attacks healthy cells by mistake. 

While researchers don’t currently know what exactly causes psoriatic arthritis, they do believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors can trigger the onset of symptoms. Most people with the condition develop psoriasis before receiving a PsA diagnosis. 

There is no surefire way to prevent PsA or psoriasis. However, there are some things you can do to reduce the severity of your symptoms and lower the frequency of your psoriatic arthritis flare-ups (or, periods where you experience active symptoms). 

Who Is Most at Risk?

Anyone can develop psoriatic arthritis—but, your risk is higher if you already have psoriasis. In the United States, more than 8 million people have psoriasis. An estimated 10% to 20% of people with pre-existing psoriasis eventually develop PsA.

Aside from having psoriasis, you may be at a higher risk for PsA if you:

  • Are between the ages of 30 and 50 
  • Have obesity 
  • Experienced an infection or injury to your skin or joints 
  • Consume alcohol or use tobacco 


Having a family history of PsA and psoriasis can also increase your risk of developing the condition. Researchers estimate that 33% to 50% of people with psoriatic arthritis have one or more first-degree relatives—such as a parent, brother, or sister—who also have the condition.

Researchers have discovered some genes that may increase your risk of developing PsA. The most common genes found in people with PsA are human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes—which play a role in how your immune system is able to identify the difference between healthy and harmful cells in your body. Certain HLA alleles (alternative forms of a gene) are associated with psoriatic arthritis, most commonly HLA B27.

Keep in mind: having HLA genes doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get PsA, but if combined with environmental triggers for PsA, you may be at an increased risk of developing symptoms. 

How to Reduce Risk 

Psoriatic arthritis, like other autoimmune conditions, can’t be prevented. However, your healthcare provider will likely help you find ways to prevent flare-ups and better manage skin and joint-related symptoms. 

On average, it takes people seven to 10 years to develop PsA after receiving a diagnosis for psoriasis. If you have psoriasis and don’t have PsA symptoms, you can also take steps to reduce your risk of activating PsA. You may consider trying one or more of the following lifestyle recommendations to lower your risk of developing symptoms.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Research suggests that obesity can increase your risk of both developing PsA and increasing your frequency of flare-ups. While the link between obesity and PsA is still being studied, some experts explain that obesity can raise your cytokine levels—or, the proteins in your body that promote inflammation.

That said, maintaining a healthy weight for your body type and lifestyle may reduce your symptoms and how often you’re experiencing flare-ups. The best ways to maintain a healthy weight (or, reduce weight if you may need) is to eat nutritious foods and stay active through light to moderate exercise throughout the week.

The research cited in this article claims that weight loss can prevent or help treat a chronic condition. An individual’s weight is affected by a variety of biological, environmental, and social factors. does not promote or condone weight loss that’s not under the care of a healthcare provider. Please contact your healthcare provider if you’re concerned about losing weight responsibly and healthfully. 


Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce inflammation.  Studies show that physical activity can improve muscle strength and heart health, ease pain and fatigue, and improve overall quality of life for people with psoriatic arthritis.

The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends trying the following exercises if you have PsA:

  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Water aerobics 
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi

Whether you’re currently living with PsA or may be at risk for developing PsA, these activities can also help improve your general health by getting your heart rate up and working your muscles.

If you’re experiencing severe joint pain or aren’t sure how to start an exercise routine, talk to your healthcare provider about finding activities that work for your lifestyle. Your provider can also recommend you to a physical therapist or qualified fitness instructor for additional support. 

Manage Stress

Some stress isn’t always a bad thing, but experiencing extreme stress in a short period or being constantly stressed for a long period of time can put strain on your—both mentally and physically—and increase your risk of flares.

While stress isn’t always avoidable, there are some things you can do to better manage your stress, including: 

  • Taking breaks from activities or things that make you feel stressed, like being on social media or constantly following the news
  • Moving your body
  • Getting regular sleep
  • Practicing yoga, meditation, or deep breathing techniques 
  • Staying connected to hobbies or activities that you enjoy 
  • Reducing or avoiding alcohol
  • Eating nutritious meals on time 
  • Talking to a loved one about your stress or condition 

If you feel like your stress is overwhelming or you’re having trouble managing it on your own, it may be a good time to talk to your healthcare provider about a referral to a mental health professional who can provide additional emotional support and teach you stress management techniques.

Follow Your Psoriasis Treatment Plan

Having a pre-existing psoriasis diagnosis increases your risk of developing PsA. Once you receive a diagnosis for psoriasis, it’s important to keep in contact with your healthcare provider and follow your psoriasis treatment plan—as this can help you reduce your risk of PsA. The right treatments and preventative measures can slow disease progression and help you live a healthy life without developing PsA. 

Everyone’s treatment plan for psoriasis looks different, especially because there are several types of psoriasis. But, a combination of medications, topical treatments, light therapy, and lifestyle changes can help you manage psoriasis symptoms and delay the onset of PsA. 

Discuss With A Healthcare Provider

If you have a family member with psoriatic arthritis or if you already live with psoriasis, you may want to talk to a healthcare provider about your risk of psoriatic arthritis. Your provider will likely want to monitor you and screen you for PsA regularly—as this may help you reach an early diagnosis and get you started on treatment sooner, if necessary. 

The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends contacting a healthcare provider if you develop the following symptoms:

  • Pain, swelling, or stiffness in one or more of your joints
  • Joints that look red or feel warm when you touch them
  • Frequent tenderness or stiffness in your joints 
  • Swelling that makes your fingers or toes look like sausages
  • Changes to the way your nails look, like pitting (holes) or nails separating from the nail bed
  • Lower back pain or pain above your tailbone

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to get in contact with your primary healthcare provider. They will likely work with a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in the joints, muscles, and bones) and a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in the skin) to get you tested for PsA and rule out other conditions. 

A Quick Review 

While you can’t prevent psoriatic arthritis (PsA), you can reduce your likelihood of experiencing flares. If you have not yet received a diagnosis for PsA, but have psoriasis, following preventative measures can slow your disease progression and delay the onset of PsA symptoms. 

Your healthcare provider may recommend a variety of prevention techniques such as maintaining a healthy weight that is right for you, getting regular light to moderate exercise, ensuring you are getting enough quality sleep throughout the night, reducing your stress levels, and following your psoriasis treatment plan. 

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