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Person sitting in a chair with one leg propped up and their knee wrapped

Psoriatic Arthritis and Knee Pain

When you take time to think about it, it makes a great deal of sense why knee pain is so prevalent in the PsA community. After all, the knees are the largest joints in the body. Our knees make it possible for us to walk, stand, and sit.

So if you suffer, there is very little you can do without experiencing, and in many cases exasperating your knee pain.

Psoriatic arthritis and knee pain

Many of us with psoriatic arthritis feel most of our knee pain in one knee, as opposed to both. That is often one of the markers of PsA versus other types of arthritis. Our pain is often one-sided and not matching on both sides.

Tips to manage knee pain with psoriatic arthritis

For example, my left elbow is a hot mess, but my corresponding elbow on the right is mostly okay.

Here are a few tips for managing knee pain.

Get the knees moving!

Even if you have to set a timer, move every 15 minutes, even if it is only shifting positions. Movement is very important when you have knee pain.

No matter if it is standing, sitting, or lying down, try and shift how your knee bends in order to keep those juices flowing throughout your knee.

Address the knee pain with your doctor or physical therapist

Ask your doctor or PT about simple exercises to build the muscles in the knee to better aid in movement and keeping the joints “lubed” up.

As painful as it can sometimes feel, in some cases (and with the approval of your doctor) it is worth the effort and energy to stretch and build the muscles in your knee to stave off more challenging options to manage your knee pain.

Steroid knee injections

As a more short term solution, consider talking with your doctor about steroid injections for your knee. Yes, it might give you a bit of the heebie-jeebies to think about a needle going into your knee. But I speak from personal experience when I say, if you can get over that, you can possibly get some decent relief.

Over the years, I’ve had steroid injections in my knees several times and can often get up to 3 months of pain relief.

Stem cell therapy

Stem cell therapy for knee pain is a much newer option that lasts a little longer (sometimes 5-7 years). It is much more expensive and involved than steroid injections. Because it is more up and coming, there isn’t a ton of research on its specific use for psoriatic arthritis.

This makes it, as well as total knee replacement surgery, often controversial among the medical community.

Knee replacement surgery

For much more long term solutions, your doctor may suggest a knee replacement surgery. There are various types and your doctor will guide you through the important decisions if you reach that point. However, recovery “can” be difficult.

Many people who suffer from knee pain and some studies suggest that people who undergo knee replacement surgery may be more likely to suffer from more frequent flares.

Let’s do more for knee pain from psoriatic arthritis

Given that the knee is the largest joint in the body, the medical community needs to do a much better job of developing better long term solutions for knee pain.

While many rheumatologists (probably rightly) believe that if they can get the overall disease under control with DMARD’s and biologics, there are very few options to adequately manage the pain in the meantime. After all, heat, ice, and Epsom salts can only go so far.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • LisaMN
    2 weeks ago

    Hello Leanne,
    Great article and all very true. I’ve had knee problems since I severely dislocated my right knee in gymnastics 40 yrs ago when I was 16. I’ve been told for many years that it’s Osteoarthritis but lately I question that diagnosis. I have PsA and now wonder if that’s what’s been going on all this time. Only my right knee was a problem for about 30 yrs, it’s only been the last 8-10 that the left knee is becoming a bit bothersome.

    I currently have Euflexxa injections every 6 months and have done the cortisone injections a couple of times. The 1st time I did them it was as if I hardly had arthritis pain, amazing! The 2nd time offered little benefit at all though.

    I’m due in April for the next round of Euflexxa, which does help but not very much, I can’t even walk a 1/4 mile with it. It just helps enough for me to hobble around my apartment. I was hoping to get the cortisone shots on top of the Euflexxa which was what worked best that 1st time.

    Also, if anyone is overweight like me, please try, try, try to get it off. I lost 130 lbs 8 yrs ago and ALL my symptoms improved dramatically. I lifted weights and built muscle, I was doing squats, deadlifts and leg presses all with a bad back and very bad knees and they got MUCH better. I did this slowly but consistantly so as not to injure myself. At that time I was told my only option was knee replacement. But losing the weight helped my knees so much that I didn’t need it then and still haven’t done it yet. Most of my back pain disappeared and that was a daily agony.

    Unfortunately due to frozen shoulder in both shoulders a few yrs back I gained quite a bit of weight back and my knees & other symptoms are MUCH worse. So again I’m doing whatever I can to get it off and keep it off this time. You don’t need to hire a trainer either, educate yourself before hand and take it slow. bodybuilding.com and t-nation.com have tons of info with forums for finding answers and asking questions and youtube has a lot to offer. As someone with a chronic disease you’ll have to modify your exercises to fit your abilities and limitations but it can be done.

    The horrible irony of arthritis is that moving hurts and too much can cause injuries, flares and set backs and not moving can do the same. Gaining weight and losing muscle mass can make things worse and progress to much worse and disability. Not to mention that weight gain causes a whole host of other non arthritis related health issues. Our job is made more difficult from our condition(s) than someone without health problems that just needs to shed pounds. But it’s still in our own best interest to do it anyway.

    Your article has spurred me to get with it and stop waiting for things to get in just the right place. That may never happen so no time like the present.

    I do have a question though; Have you done the cortisone while on a biologic like Enbrel? Can they be done then because I thought the two medications could not be used together.

    God bless you.

  • Leanne Donaldson author
    2 weeks ago

    We are certainly caught in the quandary of balancing the benefits of movement vs the pain and fatigue that we might risk. I am blown away by the phenomenal amount of weight loss you’ve experienced. The sheer determination and desire something like that takes is absolutely amazing.
    You know, you make a good point and one that, as PsA patients, sometimes we don’t like to hear and that is the fact that maintaining average weight is beneficial when you live with a chronic illness.
    So many patients (and the pain we experience) is written off by doctors, using weight as an excuse as opposed to looking past that in search of a diagnosis. So when we hear that we need to “lose weight” sometimes we just want to scream, “But that’s not it!” And yet at the same time, I also know from personal experience that losing some weight has actually helped me be better able to move, function, and therefore manage some of the pain and stiffness.
    We don’t like to hear it, but it is a key contributing factor too. But it is also a catch 22 at the same time. It is painful to move, but without movement the pain gets worse. Argh. It is a vicious cycle for sure.
    When it comes to cortisone injections, I have been on biologics while I’ve gotten them. I haven’t specifically been on Enbrel, but I’ve been on about 5 others at the time I’ve gotten injections. Of course, your doctor will know better in your specific case, but I’ve been able to get injections while on biologics.
    I have found yoga (Hatha style) to be very beneficial to increase my range of motion and keep my joints strong. Sending you gentle hugs today and I hope you are having a “good” day. 🙂 -Leanne, Author

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