31 Ways to Manage Your Psoriatic Arthritis
Living with psoriatic arthritis
There's no cure for psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects up to 30% of people who have psoriasis and can cause symptoms like pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints. But the good news is that there are things you can do to make living with the condition more bearable. Here, 31 strategies that can help you manage your symptoms and feel like yourself again, from taking medications like over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to lifestyle changes such as getting plenty of exercise, sleeping enough, and monitoring your posture.
Shed extra weight
Pumping iron is probably off the table—but that doesn't mean exercise is. In fact, experts recommend doing low-impact activities that won't damage your joints. Swimming and walking are good choices. You can also combine the two by walking laps in the pool. "Having an exercise regimen is very important," says Michael Siegel, PhD, director of research programs at the National Psoriasis Foundation. Talk to your doctor about which exercises would be best for you.
Know when to take it easy
Sometimes even gentle exercise can jar joints. When that happens, back off, at least for a while. "If you're experiencing a significant amount of pain, it's a good idea to stop," says Siegel. "It's not a case of pushing past your limits to achieve some goal." You don't necessarily have to give up the activity but you may have to pace yourself.
Move with T'ai Chi
Wear the right shoes
Inflammation of the feet and ankles can make shoes painful. Try a shoe with a high toe box giving ample room for swollen toes. Shoe inserts, heel cups, and heel pads may relieve pain in other areas of the foot. "People need to wear really good shoes that are very well supported, either a tie shoe or a slip-on shoe, certainly not mules or high heels but flatter shoes," says Lenore Frost, PhD, clinical associate professor of occupational therapy at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Get enough sleep
Sit up straight
Find the right position
Posture is just as important when you're asleep. If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees to even out your hips, advises Frost. (If you have a flare on one side, though, don't sleep on it.) Find a pillow that doesn't cause too much forward flection or extension of the neck. "It's all about keeping as good an alignment of the skeletal system as you can," says Frost.