People with psoriatic arthritis must learn how to manage the pain and inflammation associated with this chronic health condition. But sometimes it can be a matter of trial and error to develop the most effective management plan. By now, you may have developed your own list of psoriatic arthritis do’s and don’ts that help you manage your pain more effectively. Sometimes, it’s harder to remember what not to do than it is to remember what you should do! Watch out for these stumbling blocks, which might have the unintended effect of derailing the management of your psoriatic arthritis pain.
A key element of your psoriatic arthritis pain management plan should be the effective use of pain medication. In other words, work closely with your doctor to find a pain medication that works for you and don’t stop taking it without consulting your physician first. You’re much less likely to have flares if you take your medication as prescribed. Another incentive to take your medications: not taking them can lead to progression of the disease itself, which can lead to permanently impaired or even deformed joints.
Before a flare-up of your psoriatic arthritis, you might experience anxiety or sleeplessness. Your stress levels may ratchet upwards. Some people report feeling extra tired, like they’re coming down with the flu. Then…the pain sets in. If you recognize the early signs on an impending flare, don’t ignore them. You might be able to head off a flare or at least reduce the severity by taking steps to minimize it. Take the opportunity to slow down and rest. And try to avoid other triggers that tend to lead to flares. It might help to keep track of your triggers and your symptoms, so you know what tends to precipitate a flare.
Easier said than done, right? Stress is a constant companion for many people, and it can be hard, if not impossible, to completely alleviate stress from your life. However, stress can exacerbate the pain of psoriatic arthritis--or at least make you more sensitive to it. So, it’s worth trying to identify the factors that tend to stress you out and address them.
Anything you can do to reduce the strain on your joints is helpful. Your joints are already inflamed from your psoriatic arthritis, so they’re prone to be sore and swollen. Don’t make them feel even worse. Find ways to help you reduce the strain. For example, use two hands instead of one hand to lift items, thus spreading out some of the load. If you need additional support, a brace or splint can provide extra help and reduce the wear-and-tear on your joints, too.
When you’re tired, and your joints are aching, it can be very tempting to plop down on the sofa and prepare to stay there. Don’t skip your exercise routine, though. Exercise keeps your joints limber, and it can actually reduce inflammation that causes joint pain. Exercise can also increase your flexibility and strength. And when you build muscle, you decrease some of the load on your joints. Try to incorporate a variety of exercises, such as walking, tai chi, yoga, swimming, and cycling. And if you need guidance, consult a trainer or physical therapist.
It can be challenging to go about the tasks of daily living when you’re coping with the pain of psoriatic arthritis. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. For example, if you work in an office, ask for accommodations to make your workspace more comfortable for you. And if you’re worried your medication isn’t working well enough or is causing problematic side effects, talk to your doctor about trying something else--perhaps a different dose or a different medication.
In general, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor if you notice that your psoriatric arthritis pain is giving you trouble. It may be time to reevaluate your condition and decide the next best step.