Doctor Guide

The diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) may cause you to feel overwhelmed and relieved at the same time. Trying to learn all about the condition will mean a lot of information to digest, yet you might be glad to have a firm diagnosis and a plan of action to follow to relieve your symptoms. Educating yourself is vital to the management of any chronic condition, including psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Think about the following topics related to PsA, and jot down questions for your doctor.

Explanation – Ask your physician for a detailed explanation of psoriatic arthritis, including who gets the disease and how a person is diagnosed. Pose any question that will help you understand the condition you’ll be dealing with for the rest of your life.

Symptoms – Discuss the symptoms you experience in your joints, and ask about other signs of PsA of which you should be aware, such as fatigue. Also ask your doctor about the common patterns of the disease, such as flare-ups and remission, so you will know what to expect. Find out what you should do if you aren’t feeling better after taking medication for a while, if you have side effects from the drugs, or if you can reduce your dosage during a period of remission.

Medications – Many different types of medications are used to manage psoriatic arthritis. Make a list of medications and supplements you currently take for other health conditions, as they might interact with specific drugs currently used to treat PsA. Some medicines will help both your skin and joint symptoms; ask which ones might be right for you.

Time frame – Asking how long it will take to see changes or improvement in your condition is an appropriate question to pose to your medical team. The time frame will vary depending on your specific medication, the aggressiveness of the regimen, and other forms of treatment, such as physical therapy.
Lifestyle changes – Inquire about a wide range of adaptive devices that you can use to help make everyday tasks easier. Examples include jar openers, button threaders, built-up handle kitchen utensils, key rings, and toothbrush grippers.

Surgery – Discuss the possibility of surgery. You can open the conversation with a question about treatment methods for severely damaged joints. Injectable drugs and surgical repair might be on the list of options, depending on your unique situation.

Coping – In addition to the physical manifestations of psoriasis and PsA, many patients experience stress and depression. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor what you can do about these. Antidepressant medications and a referral to a support group may be just a phone call away.

Psoriatic arthritis can be a scary diagnosis. Fight fear with information. Ask every question that wakes you up in the middle of the night or pops into your head on the drive home from work until you feel comfortable with what you have learned. Your medical team is there to help you heal and adjust to life with PsA.