Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a painful and frustrating complication of the autoimmune disease psoriasis, which causes red, rashy, swollen skin.
If you have PsA, your joints may become difficult to move, swollen, and painful. You may develop PsA in your fingers and toes first, particularly if your psoriasis affects your fingernails or toenails.
Our expert rheumatologists, Ahmed M. Abdel-Megid, MD, and Amanda Borham, MD, diagnose and treat psoriatic arthritis at the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey.
If you’d like to slow down the progress of your disease so you can stay as mobile and pain-free as possible, read on for our tips.
Exercise, build muscles, and stretch
Although your painful joints might disagree at first, the best thing for PsA is to stay active, limber, and strong. Exercise floods your joints (and the rest of your body) with oxygen and nutrients and helps them wash away toxins.
Moving your joints has an added benefit: It helps them stay lubricated. Your joints are covered by a special tissue called the synovium. When you move your joints, the synovium produces and coats your joints with synovial fluid so they glide freely and painlessly.
Although walking and light stretching are good first steps to keep your joints mobile, healthy, and limber, you should also try to build muscle through resistance training. When your muscles are strong, they take some of the load and stress off your joints.
We work with you to design an activity and exercise program that takes you from your baseline and builds toward a complete routine that incorporates stretching, resistance training, and cardio. Physical activities that are easy on your joints include:
- Tai chi
Warm up before and cool down after exercise to avoid pulling a muscle, tendon, or ligament. Start your resistance training by doing exercises that rely solely on your body weight or the use of resistant bands.
Working with a physical therapist or a trainer helps you get stronger and more mobile faster with less risk of injury.
Adopt a noninflammatory diet
You can enjoy a rich, vibrant, flavorful diet that allows you to feel full and satisfied, while simultaneously avoiding foods that promote inflammation. Inflammation is a tool that your immune system uses to attack pathogens in an acute state, such as an injury.
But chronic inflammation is at the root of many diseases, including arthritis. Eliminate pro-inflammatory foods, including:
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Seed and vegetable oils (except olive, avocado, and coconut oil)
- Fried foods
- Junk or fast food
- Sweetened beverages
- Artificial sweeteners
- Processed foods
Shop the periphery of your grocery store, where all the fresh foods are kept, such as vegetables, fruits, fish, and pastured or grass-fed meats, poultry, and eggs.
Switch to the Mediterranean diet, MIND diet, or a flexible ketogenic diet to easily and deliciously increase the number of fresh, healthy foods you eat.
Eliminate excess weight … and stress
Both physical and mental stress take their toll on your joints. If you’re obese or overweight, simply losing those extra pounds takes the weight off painful, stiff joints.
Ridding yourself of mental burdens also relaxes your muscles and lets your body function more naturally and easily. Try meditation, deep breathing, and socializing to give yourself an emotional vent.
Acupuncture and massage are supportive therapies that help you relax. Each can minimize pain in your joints, too.
Turn down inflammation and pain
Although lifestyle adjustments can go a long way toward slowing the progression of PsA, you may still need some extra help to ease the swelling and pain in your joints. We may recommend:
- Joint injections
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
Although there’s no cure for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, you don’t have to suffer unnecessarily. Call us today for treatment and relief. You may also request an appointment with our online tool. Our offices are located in Somerville, Flemington, and Monroe, New Jersey.