When Being in Pain Is a Pain
Psoriasis is a generally known disease and those who struggle with it can recognize the condition and know the problems that come with it including a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. We know that psoriasis is a disease that is characterized by dry patches with gray, dark or white flakes and can occur anywhere on the skin.
Connecting psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
We know that the psoriasis condition can penetrate through the weak tissue beneath the skin and extend to the joints which can result in psoriatic arthritis. Of course, for those of us that live with psoriatic arthritis, we already knew this. There are people that are diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis without a diagnosis of psoriasis itself. PsA can happen even without any visible symptoms of psoriasis at all. I was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of five but did not start experiencing any systems of psoriatic arthritis until I was 25.
For 35 years, I have had psoriatic arthritis and if I don’t keep my condition under control, it can reduce the mobility of my joints and pain will set in all over my body. Unfortunately, with both conditions, there is still no clear-cut cure. Though there are ways to manage the symptoms.
Pain and psoriatic arthritis
When living with PsA, there are some who get frequent conjunctivitis and eye-narrowing and in some cases PsA can be related to issues with the cardiovascular system. This illness has a mind of its own. It has stages of being calm and then boom! You don’t know what hit you. Doctors don’t know why this happens, but it’s hard for us to control.
Psoriatic arthritis causes joint stiffness and pain, especially in the thumb, ring finger, toes, soles of the feet, and lower back. The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can vary in intensity, agitation, and can change over time. Emotional effects such as stress, poor sleep, physical injuries, anxiety, and depression can often follow these symptoms.
Find your way through the pain
Monitor the movement and intensity of your pain and try to determine specific patterns. Take note of the period, context or activity as it occurs. Try to determine if you are doing something that intensifies the pain or something that helps you relieve it. Make a list and try to stick to it.
Evaluate your negative beliefs about pain. Question the dark thoughts you have about helplessness, guilt, or anger. What advice would you give to a friend? Is this always going to be your status? No. Will you still think this way tomorrow? Hopefully not.
Finding ways to cope with psoriatic arthritis pain
Get plenty of rest. At the end of each night, try to remember all the things or activities that you were able to do throughout the day, despite being in pain and being fatigued. You can also keep a diary that can serve as a reminder of how strong you were during your worse days. Be proud you made it another day.
Try to relax as much as possible through meditation, abdominal breathing, a warm bath, reading or any other relaxing activity or small ritual. Write down the impending thoughts, challenges, or worries related to pain on paper. Focus on something else like a relaxing sensation with a scented candle or essential oil next to your bed, perhaps listening to music, or reminisce on a beautiful memory of some comfortable and safe place.
Mentally overcoming psoriatic arthritis pain
Imagine your dream and visualize your goals of the person you want to be. Create a new image in which you are victorious, dominant and strong. Believe you are more powerful than anything that currently occupies or disturbs you. Try to find encouraging quotes to help you cope with anxiety, pain, or fatigue. Have them with you as a mantra or reminder.
Getting pain management help from healthcare providers
I know we all hurt and if it’s unbearable, it's important to see your doctor or even visit a pain management specialist. Personally, I started seeing a pain doctor a couple of years ago and they helped me find relief so I can be more comfortable. I've experimented and tried many routes for pain relief including physical therapy, a variety of medications, relaxation therapy, and change in diet. Stay strong and you will find what works for you.
We are all in this together. Let’s take it one day at a time.
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?