While the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) may differ from person to person, one thing remains constant — experiencing flares. What is a flare, you ask? It is that period of time when your symptoms significantly worsen, and for many people, it can feel like the symptoms are unbearable. These flares can happen at any time and can be challenging to manage.
Health Union, LLC conducted a large survey of people who have psoriatic arthritis, and asked many questions about what it’s like living with a chronic condition in which flares are so commonly experienced. Over 1,000 people completed the survey. Here are the highlights from what our community shared with us.
What body parts are most affected by flares, and how long do they last?
PsA symptoms can be experienced over your whole body. Among people who took this survey, on average, about 7.5 distinct areas of the body were reported to be currently affected by the symptoms of PsA. When a symptom starts feeling worse, and a flare occurs, it can feel frustrating and discouraging, particularly if you felt your treatment plan was working!
While it can sometimes feel like a flare is lasting forever, we found that there is a wide variety of experiences in how frequently people experienced flares and how long they lasted.
Among people who took the survey, almost three-quarters of people with PsA experienced flares monthly or even more frequently, with flares lasting several weeks.
Why do PsA flares occur?
Flares usually strike after being triggered by something that’s going on in your daily life — from a change in your diet to a change in the weather. Some things are within your control, while others are not. Regardless, it is important to be aware of what may be a trigger for you. In our survey, we found that 84% of those with flares have identified their triggers, with stress and/or weather or climate changes being the most common.
What are ways to manage and treat PsA flares?
For many people, having PsA and experiencing flares negatively impacts their quality of life. Survey respondents reported that their ability to exercise or participate in physical activity are the most frequent areas of their life to be negatively affected. Less frequently cited, but still commonly reported aspects of life that are also compromised include the ability to work, sleep, and have a social life.
Coping with a PsA flare
It can be frustrating coping with a condition that encompasses such a wide range of symptoms. Many people describe this condition as extremely painful, both physically and mentally.
But please know that you are not alone. Our community here at Psoriatic-Arthritis.com understands and supports you even when you’re dealing with your worst flare. And when that happens, reach out to us on Facebook or in forums!
The Psoriatic Arthritis In America 2017 online survey gathered insights from 1,033 individuals currently suffering from psoriatic arthritis to better understand their symptoms and management of this condition, as well as the impact on their lives.