Four areas of the body experience various symptoms of arthritis

Psoriatic Arthritis is More Than Joint Pain

Last updated: December 2022

I’ve written articles about the basics of functional medicine. You see, functional medicine, at its most basic, is an attempt to take a step back and look at the whole picture of our bodies. It is that idea that has drawn me to further explore what functional medicine might have to offer.

After all, if your whole house is on fire, what’s the use of only putting out the fire in one bedroom? Your house is still going to burn down.

The overlooked symptoms of psoriatic arthritis

If we look at our psoriatic arthritis as “just” joint pain, it becomes very difficult to see our body and our disease as a whole. Simply treating our joint pain as the only aspect of psoriatic arthritis is like simply putting out the fire in our bathroom and ignoring the rest of the house.

If we are only treating our joint pain, then we are only seeing a part of the whole disease. On a very personal and familiar level, we know that PsA is so much more than some joint pain and stiffness. And often, when I do bring up any other symptoms, my rheumatologist is usually quick to offer up a referral to yet another medical specialist.

This often sends me down a financial and emotional rabbit hole to nowhere good. That’s if I even have the energy or wherewithal to follow up on the symptom.

It is also emotional and mental

There are many studies done to look at the relationships between our mind, body, and gut especially during moments of stress. Whether the stressful situations are conscious or unconscious, the body’s response appears to be the same. When you have an emotional response to a stressful or upsetting situation - your body will still be unwell.

There is so much more to a “healthy” body than simple nutrition and exercise. I truly believe there is also a huge emotional or mental health component as well.

Gut health and inflammatory responses

However, when you struggle with pain and fatigue, most of our choices come down to convenience, especially from a dietary standpoint. We don’t have personal chefs preparing the perfect meals to manage our particular concoction of diseases.

"Eating healthy" is expensive. And all we have is our limited energy and whatever the local grocery store can deliver.

Inflammation of tendons and ligaments

I struggle with both enthesitis and costochondritis which feels like an ache that goes deeper than bone. Every movement and every breath can send shooting pain across my chest or down my arm. Both are a very “normal” part of life with PsA, but are rarely mentioned within a “textbook definition” of psoriatic arthritis.

It becomes especially frustrating when the medical community doesn’t readily acknowledge the bonuses that make psoriatic arthritis so much more than joint pain.

As you can see, psoriatic arthritis is not just joint pain

In my experience, some doctors are much too quick to dismiss the relationships between many of these symptoms and PsA or to pass them on to other specialists. When as patients, to us, the relationship is clear.

So next time you read an article about psoriatic arthritis, don’t be fooled by its most basic description of joint pain because, for so many of us, it is so much more than “just” joint pain. What do you think should be added to the textbook definition of psoriatic arthritis?

This or That

I prefer to call my condition:

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