Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory type of arthritis that leads to symptoms like joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
There’s no cure for psoriatic arthritis, but it is treatable. Following your prescribed treatment plan can help you manage symptoms, preserve joint function, and prevent disease progression.
Outside of treatment, many people look for additional steps they can take to manage their condition and alleviate joint pain and stiffness as well as any related skin symptoms from psoriasis.
These remedies may help you find relief.
Natural and herbal remedies haven’t been shown to cure psoriatic arthritis, but a few may help ease your symptoms.
1. Turmeric (curcumin)
Turmeric is a yellow spice used in a variety of cuisines, especially Indian food. It is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
You can eat foods with turmeric, such as Indian curries, or make turmeric tea. You can also take turmeric in pill form.
Look for supplements containing curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin has been shown to block cytokines and enzymes that cause inflammation.
A 2016 review of several published studies found evidence supporting the effectiveness of turmeric (roughly 1,000 milligrams per day of curcumin) for improving arthritis symptoms like pain and stiffness.
High doses of turmeric can thin your blood. It’s recommended that you don’t take turmeric or curcumin if:
- you’re taking a blood thinner like warfarin (Coumadin)
- you’re having surgery
- you’re pregnant
Capsaicin is a compound naturally found in spicy peppers. It helps with arthritis pain by creating a numbing effect on pain receptors.
You can buy ointments, gels, and creams containing capsaicin in stores or online. Simply rub this product on the skin near your painful joints.
You can also find capsaicin patches that work for up to 8 hours at a time when applied directly to the skin. You might feel a burning sensation at first, but this should lessen over time.
3. Epsom salts
Soaking affected joints in an Epsom salt bath may help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Magnesium, found in Epsom salts, has been shown to help boost bone density and relieve psoriasis-related skin itch.
4. Fish oil
Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory.
Fish oil supplements might also improve heart function and protect against heart disease, according to a 2016 study. This could be an important finding, since people with psoriatic arthritis are at higher risk for heart disease.
To add more omega-3s to your diet, increase your intake of fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, halibut, and cod, or take a fish oil supplement.
High levels of fish oil can interfere with some medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin), so talk with your doctor before taking a supplement.
Due to potentially dangerous levels of mercury, those who are pregnant or trying to conceive should avoid eating certain fish, such as:
- king mackerel
- albacore tuna
Ginger has not been studied for psoriatic arthritis specifically, but it has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Consider trying ginger tea or topical essential oils diluted in a carrier oil to see if it helps you find relief.
Regular exercise has many benefits for people with psoriatic arthritis, including:
- preventing joint stiffness
- improving muscle strength, which can make daily tasks a little easier
- reducing stress and improving overall mood
- maintaining bone density
- reducing fatigue
- promoting weight loss, which takes pressure off joints
- lowering risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
Low impact exercises are the easiest on painful joints. Swimming, yoga, Pilates, tai chi, walking, and cycling are good options.
Resistance training strengthens the muscles that support painful joints.
Stretching is another vital part of a psoriatic arthritis exercise plan. It prevents tightness and keeps you limber. Plus, it helps you avoid injuries when you exercise.
Work with a physical therapist or qualified personal trainer to develop an exercise routine that works for you.
7. Quit smoking
There’s an established link between smoking cigarettes and the development of psoriatic arthritis. Smoking can also trigger symptom flares. It’s never too late to quit. If you’re having trouble quitting, talk with your doctor, who can recommend smoking cessation aids that can help.
Massage is used to relieve muscle tension and reduce stress. A
However, it’s not clear whether massage is more effective than treatments like acupuncture and chiropractic care.
For best results, find a massage therapist who is trained to provide services for people with chronic conditions like psoriatic arthritis.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine in which practitioners place hair-thin needles into various pressure points around the body.
Inserting these needles promotes the release of natural pain relievers like serotonin and endorphins.
If you want to try this technique, see a licensed acupuncturist who has experience treating psoriatic arthritis. It’s important that they use clean needles and do not insert them into areas of skin with active flares.
Acupressure is the practice of applying pressure to specific areas on the body. It’s similar to acupuncture without the use of needles, or to massage.
While there’s no evidence to support the use of acupressure for psoriatic arthritis, it has been shown to help knee osteoarthritis. It can help release muscle tension and reduce pain.
If you want to try acupressure, find a therapist who is experienced in providing services for people with chronic conditions like psoriatic arthritis.
The relationship between stress and psoriatic arthritis is cyclical. Living with a chronic condition like psoriatic arthritis is stressful, and stress is a known psoriatic arthritis trigger. Meanwhile, stress can make you more sensitive to symptoms like joint pain.
Finding ways to cope with stress can help.
11. Relaxation techniques
Prioritize making time each day to focus on relaxation. You can try practicing yoga, listening to music, reading a book, or journaling. You may find that these strategies are helpful for managing stress.
Fatigue is a common issue for people with psoriatic arthritis. Part of the reason for this pervasive tiredness is a lack of sleep.
A 2019 study published in the journal Dermatology and Therapy looked at sleep patterns in people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Study results showed that nearly 60 percent of participants had trouble sleeping and more than 38 percent of participants said they didn’t get quality sleep.
Getting enough sleep is important for preventing fatigue and improving your overall mood and quality of life.
Here are some tips for creating proper sleep hygiene to help ensure a good night’s sleep:
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day.
- Exercise during the day.
- Keep your room dark and cool.
- Turn off all screens an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid big meals before bed.
- Take a relaxing bath or shower before bed.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Getting the right treatment for psoriatic arthritis will also help you sleep better.
It may be that another treatable condition, like sleep apnea, is keeping you awake.
If you still aren’t getting enough rest, ask your doctor for recommendations such as a referral to a sleep specialist.
While researchers haven’t specifically looked into the effect meditation has on psoriatic arthritis, evidence from a 2019 study suggests that mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress. That includes practices such as focusing on breathing and mental relaxation.
14. Warm bath
A warm soak can help soothe achy joints. Just keep it short and watch the water temperature. Long, hot baths can dry out your skin. Keep the water between 92 and 100°F and don’t soak for more than 20 minutes at a time.
In lieu of a bath, using a heating pad can help loosen joints and relax aching muscles. Moist heat from a wet washcloth or warm bath can be especially soothing to sore joints.
On the other hand, using a cold pack can help reduce swelling and pain. Wrap the ice pack in a towel to avoid damaging your skin. You can alternate heat with cold as needed to help with arthritis symptoms.
Psoriatic arthritis affects about 30 percent of people with psoriasis. If you’re also dealing with skin symptoms, these strategies may help you find relief.
15. Apple cider vinegar
Applying apple cider vinegar to your scalp several times a week may help ease the itch of scalp psoriasis. Create a solution with half water and half organic apple cider vinegar to avoid side effects like burning. After applying, wait for it to dry, and then rinse the solution off to prevent skin irritation.
Skip this regimen if you’re experiencing cracked, open wounds or any bleeding.
16. Oregon grape
Mahonia aquifolium, also known as Oregon grape, is a medicinal herb with germ-killing properties.
17. Tea tree oil
While no scientific studies have been conducted on the use of this native Australian oil in psoriasis, some people have found success with it.
Believed to have antiseptic qualities, tea tree oil can be applied to skin affected by psoriasis or used in shampoo as a scalp psoriasis remedy. Be sure to spot test before applying liberally, as some people are allergic to tea tree oil.
18. Oats and Dead Sea salts
Applying an oat paste to your skin or bathing in an oatmeal bath may help relieve psoriasis symptoms, though there’s no research to back these claims.
Options like Dead Sea salts have a little more evidence behind them.
The Dead Sea is located in Israel, roughly 1,300 feet below sea level. It’s full of minerals and is very salty.
People have been soaking in the Dead Sea for centuries to improve the appearance of their skin and reduce inflammation.
Soothing a skin condition by bathing in mineral springs is known as balneotherapy. Only a few studies have looked at this remedy for psoriatic arthritis, but
If a trip to the Dead Sea isn’t feasible, you can purchase Dead Sea salts online.
19. Aloe vera
Aloe vera gel is possibly best known for soothing sunburns and helping wounds heal.
One study found that some people who use a cream or gel containing aloe believe it helps relieve some of the redness, swelling, and scaling associated with psoriasis. Still, more research is needed.
The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends creams containing 0.5 percent aloe. You can apply them up to 3 times daily.
Moisturizing your skin is an essential step if you have psoriasis. It can help relieve dry, flaky skin and promote healing. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using heavier creams or ointments as opposed to lotions. Make sure to choose one that’s free of irritants such as chemicals, fragrance, and dyes.
Make sure to moisturize at least once a day — more often if your skin is particularly dry. Always apply after bathing or washing your hands to lock in moisture.
Eating a healthy diet may help you manage psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis and reduce your risk of related health issues like heart disease. It can also help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, which can help take unnecessary stress off your joints.
There’s no exact diet for psoriatic arthritis or psoriasis, though some recommend an anti-inflammatory dietary approach. In general, focusing on a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet can help. This involves incorporating a variety of these foods into your eating plan:
- healthy fats
- low fat or nonfat dairy
- whole grains
Ask your doctor about specific vitamins or nutrients that may be helpful for you.
Take steps to increase your vitamin D intake through sun exposure and food sources like milk and fortified juice and cereals. Your doctor may recommend a vitamin D supplement.
Your doctor may also recommend working with a dietitian to develop an eating plan that works best for you.
Remember, sticking to your prescribed treatment plan is the best thing you can do to manage psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
Before trying any complementary, alternative, or natural therapies for psoriatic arthritis or psoriasis, be sure to talk with your doctor. Some remedies can cause side effects or interact with your medication.
A combination of the right psoriatic arthritis medications and natural, at-home remedies can help you manage joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, as well as skin symptoms from psoriasis.
Always speak with your doctor before trying natural or alternative therapies, especially if you’re taking medications. Even if a natural remedy improves your symptoms, don’t stop taking your prescribed medication without consulting your doctor first.