5 Facts About Psoriatic Arthritis That Might Surprise You

Last updated: January 2019

Whether you have psoriatic arthritis or know someone who does, there are a few facts about psoriatic arthritis that might surprise you.

#1 You don’t have to have active psoriasis to have psoriatic arthritis

This one had me fooled from the get-go. Diagnosed with psoriasis on my scalp when I was young, I thought that since I didn’t have active psoriasis at the time, that I couldn’t have psoriatic arthritis. Not only that, you can certainly have psoriatic arthritis without ever actually having psoriasis. In fact, many people don’t develop psoriasis until later in their psoriatic arthritis diagnosis and some people don’t develop psoriasis at all.

#2 Stress plays a key role in managing flares

Of all the facts about psoriatic arthritis, I hate this one the most. Stress is so difficult to control, quantify, and manage. Stress can come at you from so many different angles and tends to snowball rapidly. On top of that, many of the ways I’ve developed to cope with stress, such as shopping or massages, are no longer an option since my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis. Without proper stress management, you are prone to more severe flares and difficult to manage mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

#3 Symptoms are not limited to your joints

No joke. Every muscle, ligament, or organ in your body is at the mercy of psoriatic arthritis. Even your eyes and ears aren’t off limits. This makes it difficult to sort out what aches and pains are a result of your body attacking itself and what are just daily living issues. What I hate most about this is that people don’t seem to understand it. They think that PsA is just the occasional knee ache or pain in my hands. But the reality is that there is so much more to it.

#4 It can severely affect your mental health

When you live with a chronic illness, you are much more likely to develop additional mental health issue such as anxiety or depression, even if you had no issues pre-diagnosis. Psoriatic arthritis puts much greater stress on our emotional well-being than you might at first imagine. Psoriatic arthritis puts stress on your relationships and your support systems making it much more difficult to get the understanding that we so desperately need.

#5 You can’t manage it alone

Yes, health-related matters are personal. It isn’t necessarily anyone else’s business if you have 1 diagnosis or 21. It is easy to tell ourselves that we don’t need any “help” managing it. Like somehow at end of the day when we are exhausted and aching, we get some kind of imaginary bonus points for not asking for help. This may be a surprise to some, but if you choose to try and manage life (and this diagnosis) on your own, then you are only setting yourself up for failure.

Honestly, when it comes down to it, there are so many things to hate about living with psoriatic arthritis. It is a complex, all-consuming disease. And even though I try really hard to stay up-to-date on the research, I still discover things almost daily that surprise me.

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