Medical treatment for your psoriatic arthritis (RP) is essential for managing the symptoms and protecting your joints. But alongside regular therapies and checkups, there are daily practices you can also adopt to promote joint health and prevent flare-ups.
Move your body. Exercise helps keep your joints loose and flexible. Movement can also relieve inflammation and pain. With regular training, you will make your muscles stronger and your joints more stable, and you can also relieve stiffness.
“Strength training and low impact exercises such as walking, swimming and cycling can be great places to start, especially since they are easier on the joints,” says Rebecca Haberman, MD. , rheumatologist at NYU Langone Health.
If physical activity hasn’t been a staple in your life, talk to your doctor or physiotherapist before you start. They can suggest workouts that best suit your schedule and abilities.
Eat well. While there is no miracle diet for PsA, a heart-healthy diet is also your best bet for overall well-being and long-term health.
“We know that patients with psoriatic arthritis have an approximately three times higher risk of heart disease, stroke, or any type of cardiovascular event,” says Nilanjana Bose, MD, rheumatologist at Memorial Hermann Rheumatology Center in Houston.
You are also more likely to get type 2 diabetes than people without PsA.
A general guideline for filling your plate: Go for fish and other lean proteins, vegetables and whole grains. Cut back on carbohydrates, sugar, and red meat. And drink plenty of water throughout the day.
While there’s no hard evidence that drinking alcohol will make your PsA worse, it’s a good idea to use caution – for your health and to be sure your treatments can work properly.
“Some drugs we use to treat psoriatic arthritis, like methotrexate, don’t mix well with alcohol,” says Haberman. “Be sure to ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to drink alcohol. “
Follow your treatment plan. Your PsA treatments work directly to alleviate your symptoms and protect your joints. They are the most effective way to reduce inflammation in your body and prevent damage. Make sure you take your doctor’s instructions to heart and stick to the schedule.
“Most psoriatic arthritis medications are chronic medications, which means they need to be taken long term to be effective,” Haberman explains. “So when you feel better, you don’t want to stop your medication, or you can go back to your medication. “
Continue to see your doctor regularly, especially if you experience flare-ups or continue to have pain. “It may not always be possible, but our goal is for you to live your life exactly the way you want it to, without even thinking about your illness,” says Haberman.
Pay attention to stress levels. When you feel stressed, your body releases chemicals that contract muscles and make inflammation worse. It can cause joint damage and pain.
“Stress and psoriatic arthritis often create a vicious cycle,” explains Haberman. “Stress can exacerbate joint pain – even triggering a flare – which then causes more stress, and so on.”
The key, she says, is to break the cycle in a number of ways – both through medication and through stress relief. There isn’t just one way to deal with stress, so find what works best for you.
“Try deep breathing meditation or body-mind relaxation apps,” Bose says. “Most importantly, take the time to do things that you love and that make you happy.”
Take care of your mental health. Make your mental well-being a priority. It may simply mean learning more about your condition so that you feel better prepared to deal with it.
“I always tell my patients to educate themselves about their disease and any medications they are taking so that we can have informed conversations and talk about anything they don’t understand,” Bose explains.
Contact others with PsA through online or in-person support groups. Talking to others who understand what it’s like to cope with your illness can help you feel less alone. And if you are having emotional difficulties, seek help.
“It’s important to remember that rates of depression and anxiety are high in people with psoriatic arthritis,” says Haberman. “So if you need it, see a mental health professional. “
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