Psoriasis is a common skin condition that affects more than 3 million people in the United States each year. It’s usually characterized by inflamed skin that has a scaly texture, which flakes off or scabs over. Like many dermatological conditions, it can’t be cured, but it can be effectively managed by those who have it. And, thankfully, it can be managed to a degree that eliminates virtually all visible symptoms—meaning more confidence for those who suffer from it.
But psoriasis can sometimes come with symptoms that run deeper than skin irritation and are harder to cope with than just using a topical cream. In severe cases (about 7% of all diagnoses), psoriatic arthritis can occur, causing body aches and joint inflammation that’s incredibly painful for the sufferer.
Living with aches and pains
Psoriatic arthritis can be agony for those living with it on a regular basis. It ranges in severity, but generally affects areas of the body that make it difficult to accomplish daily tasks without enduring pain. Some of the most common aches and pains include swelling and tenderness in the joints, as well as general stiffness and flaring pain. This often occurs in key points throughout the body, such as the Achilles tendon (heel), hips, low back and neck.
For psoriatic arthritis sufferers, everything from walking to turning their head can be a chore. Psoriatic arthritis tends to worsen when strained—meaning every time a person puts weight on their Achilles tendon or looks over their shoulder, it results in a painful jolt. And, worse still, inactivity also exacerbates the problem! Lying in bed waiting for a flare-up to pass can cause even more pain in joints when a person does decide to get up and move around.
Coping with the pain
The first instinct of many psoriatic arthritis sufferers is to pop pain pills when the going gets tough. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Tylenol or Advil are great for dulling the pain, but can’t be relied on long-term. They come with serious implications if taken heavily—including ulcers and blood thinning.
Some people see a rheumatologist to have their condition clinically diagnosed, which often leads to prescription solutions that treat psoriatic arthritis better over the long-term. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to these medications and in many cases, they can be costly.
For those left somewhere in between, there are a number of natural remedies available and many widely recognized links to consider when it comes to avoiding flare-ups in the first place:
- First, get familiar with an anti-inflammatory diet. This is a diet high in leafy greens and low in red meats, with emphasis on healthy fats and plant protein. Studies have shown diets like the Mediterranean Diet to be effective in reducing inflammation.
- Stock up on supplements to balance out your body’s general wellbeing. This means getting enough vitamins, as well as omega-3s and organic dietary supplements like turmeric and cinnamon. They can improve joint health and reduce inflammation.
- Many psoriatic arthritis flare-ups have a trigger. Getting to know yours is key. For some, it’s stress; for others, it’s food-based, like dairy or gluten. Some people are triggered by an allergen. Discover your trigger through trial and error to learn what to avoid.
Better preparing your body against arthritis flare-ups can help you combat them more effectively, to reduce their intensity and severity.
As a disclaimer, it’s important to always follow the advice of a medical professional when it comes to coping with your diagnosed condition. Do not take medications not recommended for you and don’t stop taking prescribed medications unless directed.
Focus on inflammation and total wellness
Because psoriatic arthritis is connected to psoriasis the skin condition, many people focus on resolving the dermatological roots and hope it’ll impact the pain in their joints. Despite the correlation between the conditions, they’re not connected symptomatically. There’s no correlation between the severity of psoriasis and the severity of the arthritis that can follow it—meaning you can have a virtually non-existent skin rash and extreme arthritis, or vice-versa.
While topical creams and oral medications are great at resolving the skin issues, a person needs to focus on reducing inflammation and improving total body wellness to minimize their unseen symptoms. This means taking a healthier approach to eating and exercising, so joints are in better health and less prone to stress and strain while inflamed.
It’s best to consult with a physician to have psoriatic arthritis diagnosed and to set up a wellness plan focused around mitigating its symptoms. Often, there’s a lot of opportunity for improvement in your diet and lifestyle, which could unlock more than just reduce pain levels—it could put you on a new path to better general health!