Diet, exercise, and stress reduction are three areas in your control that can positively influence your psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and symptoms.
If you’re living with PsA, making changes in these key areas of your life may help make a difference in your disease progression and health outcomes.
As an added bonus, a healthy diet, adequate exercise, and lowered stress don’t just impact your PsA. All three have a positive effect on your overall health, including your mental health and quality of life.
How To Manage Psoriatic Arthritis
Here are our top tips to help you manage psoriatic arthritis through simple lifestyle changes:
1. Eat Right
No diet can cure PsA. However, a diet that is balanced and healthful can lessen symptom severity and reduce the frequency of psoriatic arthritis flares.
The appropriate diet may also increase the length of remission and lower the likelihood of developing comorbidities, ultimately improving overall health and quality of life.
PsA increases your risk for other health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. But a heart-healthy diet may lower your risk of co-occurring conditions.
While there is no one psoriatic arthritis diet, you can take measures to adjust your diet to help reduce inflammation, manage your symptoms, and maintain a healthy weight.
The recommended diet for people with psoriatic arthritis is rich in fresh, whole foods containing antioxidants, dietary fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.
A good psoriatic arthritis diet minimizes or eliminates foods that contribute to inflammation, such as processed sugars, saturated fats, and alcohol.
Some people with PsA find that a gluten-free or anti-inflammatory diet improves their symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory diets include the Mediterranean diet, a high-fiber diet, or a plant-based diet.
These diets include a lot of whole-grain foods and fresh fruits and vegetables, which help reduce inflammation in the body.
2. Get A Move On
Research has shown that people who have psoriatic arthritis tend to exercise less than those who don’t have PsA.
Decreased exercise may be attributed to pain, stiffness, inflammation, and swelling in affected joints brought on by psoriatic arthritis. Because of PsA symptoms like these, many people give up on exercise and become increasingly sedentary.
However, giving in to your symptoms can actually make them worse. Lack of physical activity can lead to increased stiffness and exacerbate other PsA symptoms.
Inadequate amounts of exercise also compound the risks for developing other health conditions, like diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart disease, which are all more common among people with psoriatic arthritis.
There are many benefits to integrating regular movement into your daily routine when you have PsA. For example, avoiding excess weight is especially important for people living with PsA.
Additional weight puts excess pressure on joints that are already coping with the effects of PsA. Sometimes, excess weight can also reduce the effectiveness of certain medications used to treat psoriatic arthritis.
In addition to its benefits in weight management, regular physical activity may also help reduce pain and stiffness characteristic of the disease by increasing flexibility and preserving range of motion in the joints.
Increasing your strength and physical well-being through exercise can also help support your joints and decrease the strain on them.
Regular exercise has also been shown to aid stress management, combat depression and anxiety, increase self-esteem, and improve mood.
Low-impact exercises, like yoga or walking, can improve strength, flexibility, and balance, and may be a good option to begin with.
You should always consult your healthcare provider or rheumatologist before beginning any new exercise routine, and remember to start slow and listen to your body.
3. Reduce Stress
Managing a chronic disease affects many aspects of daily living. Coping with symptoms and treatments may add to the burden of stress and take a toll on your emotional health.
Finding strategies to manage stress is critical to anyone’s wellbeing but becomes especially important when you’re managing psoriatic arthritis.
That’s because stress is a common trigger for PsA flares, and inflammation and stress together can increase your sensitivity to pain.
Your physiological response to stress, such as increased tension in your muscles and triggered inflammatory response, can make your PsA pain worse.
Pain, especially chronic pain, can exacerbate and prolong your body’s stress response. But you can take steps to disrupt the cycle and live better.
To minimize and cope with the day-to-day stress of life with PsA, you may want to try mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness and meditation are effective stress-relieving practices.
Psychotherapy, in which trained practitioners provide guidance and stress management skills, may also help.
Yoga and tai chi are forms of low-impact exercise that may help reduce stress while also providing low-intensity physical activity that can reduce PsA flares.
You may discover that support groups, whether they’re online or in-person, can provide a network of psychosocial support from people who understand, first-hand, what you’re going through.
Try these tips or others to find what works best for you.