Psoriatic Arthritis is a Pain in the Back!
Last updated: March 2023
Anytime you experience prolonged pain in a new area, it raises many complex questions. These questions and concerns rarely get an immediate answer. It often takes several months or even longer and a few expensive diagnostic imaging tests simply to find the most likely answer.
So it is from this, several months later perspective, that I offer my best tips for managing this delightful, new psoriatic arthritis pain in the a**, oops, I mean pain in the back.
Welcoming a new pain, one in my lower back
My journey with lower back pain started pretty suddenly. Other than everyday Mom activities - dishes, laundry, etc.- I didn’t recall doing anything crazy or different that would warrant the pain. Just to be clear, this wasn’t a low-level, aching pain. Nope. This was a stop-mid-motion, shooting, crying level of pain.
Since you, my dear friends, totally understand the difference - I just wanted to be clear.
Obviously, I started managing the pain with all my original “go-to” methods: rest, ice, heat, icy-hot, CBD oil, and my PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency) device. These made the pain more manageable, but only temporarily.
So I moved on to using my TENS unit. Which, again, helped, but after a few weeks, I decided the pain warranted a call to my rheumatologist. So as I can likely guess, my rheumy prescribed a prednisone taper. Which, again, helped, but as soon as the taper was finished, the pain was back.
What could be the cause of this new symptom?
A few months later, I was at my rheumatologist’s office for my regular visit. I will fully admit to being a little reluctant to mention new pain to my doctor (which, honestly, I would highly recommend to anyone else to consistently mention new symptoms to your doctor). But you know, that’s just how it is.
She listened to me share about my painful lower back and, since the pain was not subsiding, decided to get some x-rays. She also sent me a prescription to get fitted for a back brace.
Well, the x-rays showed damage, but it wasn’t clear if the cause was common osteoarthritis or my psoriatic arthritis. So again, it was the classic wait-and-see.
I had just started a new biologic medication (Orencia). My doctor believed it best to use a combined approach of the back brace, light physical therapy, and the new medicine to see if any of that would help. If not, then we would move forward with an MRI.
Just another part of life with psoriatic arthritis...
It has been 3 months with my back pain “flaring up” a few days before my monthly Orencia biologic. From there, the pain diminishes several days afterward. However, I have continued with light physical therapy, my PEMF therapy, and the TENS unit.
Suffice it to say that managing the pain in my back takes quite a bit of time and a combined approach, but after almost a year now, I would say that it is sort of under control. So where do I go from here?
Well, honestly, I’m not sure - I’m reluctant to change anything as I don’t want it to get worse, but at the same time, is it worth getting an MRI to have a more definitive answer? There isn’t a clear right or wrong choice, which is just another part of life with PsA.
Has your doctor ruled one way or the other if your own pain was PsA or not? In the grand scheme, my back pain has really affected my quality of life, probably more than any of the other pain I’ve experienced thus far. So please, comment below and let me know what you’ve learned along the way, and hopefully, as a community, we can share the load together.
This or That
Do you feel overwhelmed by your PsA?
Do you usually need to recover from a vacation?