What Causes Psoriatic Arthritis Flares?
Living with psoriatic arthritis is challenging. The disease is complicated and unique to each person. No two people living with psoriatic arthritis have exactly the same set of triggers.
Rather, every person has or has had to track and discover what their triggers are so they can learn to avoid them.
Understanding our community's flares
To learn more about what triggers affect you, we asked our Facebook community: What causes a PsA flare for you?” In other words, what causes a worsening of symptoms for you?
More than 350 of you weighed in, and here is what you had to say.
Stress can aggravate the symptoms of many diagnoses. Stress reduces our overall immunity, which makes our bodies more susceptible to illness. Any time we overly exhaust our body, it takes time to recover.
For anyone living with psoriatic arthritis, it may be useful to note if stress is a trigger. If so, you might want to plan extra downtime and self-care when life gets crazy.
“Mainly stress then humidity. It is a roller coaster of things.”
“Stress and temperature changes. Overdoing things one day impacts the next couple of days.”
Food is one of the most common triggers for people with psoriatic arthritis. However, which foods are triggering varies widely. The long list of foods that people find troublesome include dairy, sugar, wheat, meat, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages.
These foods may seem to have nothing in common, but they are all foods that cause inflammation. Diet can play a huge role in psoriatic arthritis, so it can help to keep a food diary to note how you feel after meals. This is the best and easiest way to find foods that are problematic for you.
“I did not realize my so-very-sensitive stomach could be part of it, too. Bread, pasta, potatoes, meats, dairy, sugar, and alcohol all have a negative effect. I honestly thought I was losing my mind and making things up when my body reacted so quickly to these things.”
“Sugar and gluten. Sadly, a lot of gluten-free options are loaded with sugar.”
“Meat. I love steak and I have not had any in 3 months. I had some yesterday and can feel it today.”
Rainy, muggy weather is often felt by people with psoriatic arthritis. It sounds like an old wives’ tale, but there is truth to it. The change in barometric pressure causes tissues in the body to shrink or get bigger, and that can result in pressure on muscles and nerves.
“Cold weather, high humidity, and rain.”
“Bad weather, especially when we get days of awful rain.”
Lack of exercise
This one may seem counterintuitive, but most people find that exercise helps their psoriatic arthritis. Moving often reduces stiffness and joint pain. When someone goes days without exercise, they might not feel their best.
“Lack of exercise is huge for me. I started working out last August with a personal trainer. Was really starting to feel good—much less strictness and pain. I have not consistently exercised since March. The pain is creeping back in.”
“I believe the lack of movement and the extra sugar and carbs are my downfalls.”
Sending care for your flare
As you become more familiar with your disease patterns, you can identify what’s bringing on the flare and take measures to address it.
Thank you to everyone who shared details about the many psoriatic arthritis triggers. We appreciate your support and hope it helps you and others to know that you’re not alone.
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?