How to Manage Day to Day Life with Psoriatic Arthritis

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: October 2016. | Last updated: September 2019

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can be difficult and challenging to live with, causing significant pain, stiffness, and sometimes, loss of function in affected joints. In addition, psoriatic arthritis can cause fatigue and have a negative effect on the patient’s quality of life. Many people living with psoriatic arthritis find the condition can be managed through taking an active role in their health and finding ways to enjoy life despite their disease.1

The importance of following a PsA treatment plan

Adherence to medication regimens is a challenge for people living with a chronic disease. Research shows that nearly 50% of people with chronic diseases do not take their medications regularly or as prescribed by their doctor. This non-adherence often leads to worsening conditions, other health complications, and higher rates of disease, and even death.2

In an analysis of clinical studies that evaluated treatment adherence among patients with autoimmune inflammatory diseases, including psoriatic arthritis, researchers found that adherence was positively influenced by treatment beliefs, essentially whether the patient believed the treatment would help their symptoms. Other influencing factors included the doctor-patient relationship and the patient’s perception of the necessity of treatment. Researchers also found that poor emotional well-being, particularly depression, is associated with non-adherence.3

Because psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition that can cause progressive joint damage, deformity, and loss of function, early and aggressive treatment is recommended. Treatment provides the best approach to prevent or delay the devastating effects of the disease, and patients should talk to their doctor about what treatment regimen is best for them and why.4

Exercise and physical activity to help PsA symptoms

In addition to medical treatment, exercise is an important part of managing psoriatic arthritis pain and maintaining the range of motion in joints. Exercise has been shown to reduce pain and improve well-being in people with PsA. Physical activity can also help maintain strength in the muscles, making daily tasks easier. To avoid and prevent the stiffness that psoriatic arthritis causes, people with psoriatic arthritis should get daily physical activity, moving their joints through as great a range of motion as possible.1

Coping with the emotional impact of PsA

Research has identified that people living with psoriatic arthritis are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the general public. Coping strategies are critical to emotional and mental health. People with psoriatic arthritis can find understanding and help through support groups, either online or in person. Many people living with psoriatic arthritis also benefit from seeing a mental health counselor or therapist.1,5

Accomodations and using assistive devices

For some people, adaptations to the home are necessary to ensure safety and functioning. Assistive devices, including modified kitchen utensils, walking canes, shoe inserts, and large button telephones, can help protect painful, inflamed joints and make it easier to accomplish everyday tasks.6

Psoriatic arthritis can impact a person’s ability to do many tasks related to work, but there are ways to accommodate physical limitations, and people living with psoriatic arthritis can take a proactive approach in managing their condition at work. Needed medications can be kept on-hand, and many assistive devices can be used in the workplace to make daily activities easier and less painful, from chairs and work surfaces that are adjustable to telephones with large push buttons.1

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