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5 Ways to Gain Control of Your Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis isn’t something that you can just shrug off. It’s something that stays with you, and can sometimes feel like an unwelcome companion. But don’t fret. Here are five ways to take back your life and live better with psoriatic arthritis.

If you have moderate to severe psoriatic arthritis, you can feel like you’re reaching out for help but not getting the answers — or relief — you need. But don’t give up.

These five things can help you feel less in the dark and get exactly what you’re looking for.

1. Keep a list of running questions for your healthcare team.

We’re all forgetful, sometimes. But when it comes to meeting with your doctor, dermatologist, or rheumatologist, forgetting to ask something can mean the difference between leaving the appointment dissatisfied and leaving with a proactive treatment plan. Asking the right kinds of questions is fundamental. And some studies have even found that the more questions you ask during an appointment, the better! A week before your appointment, start jotting down all your questions and concerns. There are list-making or organizational smartphone apps that can help you with this. Keep your list handy and add things as you think of them.

2. Try a new way to manage your stress and pain levels.

When it comes to managing pain, you may think that being a couch potato with a warm compress is your best bet. But research shows that participating in low-impact activities can be beneficial to your sore joints. If you haven’t tried yoga or water aerobics, now’s the time. A recent survey found that the number of Americans practicing yoga has increased 50 percent since 2012.

3. Talk to your work manager or human resources about your condition.  

We get it: Having psoriatic arthritis isn’t something you necessarily want to broadcast to everyone. But you can ask your manager or human resources if any ergonomic equipment is available in your workplace to help you avoid any musculoskeletal discomfort.

4. Keep your scheduled appointments, but make time for fun social activities too.

Having a chronic condition like psoriatic arthritis can be a burden on your life and on your calendar too. From checkup appointments to workouts to dermatologist visits to physical therapy sessions, it can seem like there’s little time for anything, well, fun. But making time for your family and friends and doing the things you enjoy is an important part of your treatment plan. After all, added stress can cause more swelling on your joints.

5. Start slowly by setting realistic goals.

What’s the secret to living a healthy, happy, and productive life with psoriatic arthritis? You! By setting yourself up for success, you have the ability to improve how you feel. Just don’t fall into the trap of having lofty, impractical intentions. Start slowly. Maybe your first goal is to join a yoga studio. Follow that goal with going two times a week. Then progress and make another reachable goal, like committing to cook one more meal at home each week. Pushing closer to and reaching each milestone can make you feel more empowered about your health and wellness journey.

There you have it: Five ways to gain control of your psoriatic arthritis. Because while stiffness and joint pain may have you feeling down, there’s always a positive light at the other side of the tunnel.

Journal of General Internal Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1496869/

Harvard Health Publications http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/new-survey-reveals-the-rapid-rise-of-yoga-and-why-some-people-still-havent-tried-it-201603079179

Arthritis Foundation http://www.arthritis.org/toolkits/better-living/about/psoriatic-arthritis/healthy-habits.php

Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/manage/ptc-20233970

National Psoriasis Foundation https://www.psoriasis.org/life-with-psoriasis/stress

If you have psoriatic arthritis (PsA), you know that managing the pain is an ongoing endeavor. While there’s no known cure for the disease, there are proven ways to reduce your pain.

Learning how to position your body and using adaptive devices can help you live confidently with PsA.

Body positioning

Proper body positioning can make you more comfortable during a PsA flare-up, as well as preventing undue strain on your joints at all times. Because your joints may already be compromised, they could undergo further damage. You’ll need to do what you can to protect them.

Here are three helpful tips:

  • Be mindful of how you sit and stand. For example, when doing an activity that involves working close to the floor, sit down instead of crouching or kneeling. Crouching and kneeling can add additional stress to your knees and ankles. These positions may even cause more intense pain. 
  • Think about how you hold onto things. Grasp items firmly but loosely. When grasping items, make sure that your knuckles are in alignment. When reading, lay a book or magazine on your open hands or lap while you read rather than tightly gripping the front and back covers. A very tight grip may cause irregular positioning of your knuckles, which leads to more wear and tear.
  • Keep sore joints in alignment. Situating your joints with the rest of your body is a good way to protect them and address pain. For example, tuck a pillow under your hip or between your knees to achieve more restful and pain-free sleep.

Adaptive devices

People with PsA can encounter difficulties in all aspects of life, whether at home, at work, or outside. While your range of motion may be limited, take advantage of modern technology to increase your productivity and protect your joints.

Here are some ideas to make your everyday life easier:

  • Pencil grips can be added to toothbrushes and eating utensils to make them easier to grasp.
  • Buttoners and long-stemmed shoehorns might make getting dressed less frustrating.
  • Easy-to-grip kitchen tools, such as jar and can openers, can make cooking easier on your joints.
  • Reacher poles, grabbers, or any device with a claw-like fixture on the end, can help you access the high cupboards without straining your neck or standing on a chair.
  • Phones and keyboards with large keys can help you get in a full day’s work with ease.
  • Bathtub safety bars can help prevent falls.
  • Lightweight garden hoses, playing card holders, and hands-free needlework frames can allow you to enjoy your favorite hobbies without pain.

Joint protection is important for everyone, but especially those with PsA. Consult your doctor, physical therapist, or occupational therapist to learn about proper postures for your needs as well as other devices that might be available for your home or office.