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Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can cause joint pain and inflammation that makes daily life a challenge, but there are ways to improve your quality of life. Using assistive devices, mobility aids, and smartphone applications can put less strain on your joints and make daily tasks easier.
Here are a few ways that technology can make life with PsA a little less difficult.
You likely keep your smartphone close to you all day long. This means that it’s a great tool for tracking your medications, including when you took them, if your symptoms are improving, and if you experienced any side effects.
In a recent study involving people with psoriasis, researchers found that a smartphone app designed for tracking medications helped improve short‐term adherence to topical treatment and symptom severity.
If you work in an office or sit at a desk all day, consider asking your employer for a workplace assessment to make your environment more ergonomically friendly.
Ergonomic chairs, keyboards, and monitors can reduce strain on your joints and make you as comfortable as possible. If typing on a keyboard is painful, try electronic voice dictation technology so you don’t have to type as much.
Joint pain can make it difficult to accomplish day-to-day chores, but there are many assistive technologies you can purchase to make your chores easier. Assistive devices can also help protect inflamed joints.
For the kitchen, consider getting an electric can opener, food processor, and slicers so you don’t have to handle too many utensils.
For your bathroom, add bars or handrails to get in and out of the shower. A raised toilet seat can make it easier to sit down and get up. You can also install a faucet turner if you find it difficult to grip.
You can easily connect your thermostat, lights, and other appliances to your smartphone so you don’t have to get up to turn them on and off. Some of these devices even come with voice command capability so you don’t have to reach for your phone.
The National Psoriasis Foundation has created a Patient Navigation Center that provides one-on-one virtual assistance either via email, phone, Skype, or text.
A team of patient navigators are there to help you find doctors in your area, sort out insurance and financial issues, connect with local community resources, and much more.
Along with tracking your medications, smartphone applications are available to help you keep tabs on your symptoms and overall health throughout the day.
The Arthritis Foundation has developed the TRACK + REACT application specifically for tracking your symptoms, like joint pain and stiffness.
Another app called Flaredown (iPhone; Android) is an excellent way to help you identify what triggers your PsA flare ups. It allows you to track your symptoms, plus your mental health, activities, medications, diet, and weather conditions.
The app also anonymizes its data and shares it with data scientists and researchers. This means that by using it, you’re contributing to the future of PsA treatment.
People living with PsA are at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. While meeting with a mental health counselor in person is important, technology can take this one step further. You can connect with a therapist through online therapy apps and speak to them via video chats or phone calls.
A smartphone app can become your own personal mental health coach. There are also apps for guided meditation, breathing exercises, and practicing mindfulness — all of which can boost your mental health.
An app called Worry Knot, for example, can help you unpack and untangle your thoughts and mitigate stressful problems.
Living with a chronic illness can make sleeping more difficult. Sleep is important for people living with PsA, especially if you’re trying to combat fatigue.
Practicing good sleep hygiene is essential. A smartphone app developed by researchers at Northwestern University called Slumber Time can get you on the right track. The app not only tracks how well you’re sleeping, it also assists you with a bedtime checklist to clear your mind before going to sleep.
Smartphone applications are a great way to keep track of your exercise. The Walk With Ease program, developed by The Arthritis Foundation, can show you how to safely make physical activity part of your everyday life, even when you have joint pain.
You can set goals, formulate a plan, and track your progress within the app. It also allows you to note your pain and fatigue levels before and after each workout.
Before giving up on a task because it seems too painful to complete, check if there’s an alternative in the form of an app or device. Using these apps and tools can help you accomplish goals just as you did before your diagnosis. Your PsA doesn’t have to stop you from getting through your day.