By Nyaka Mwanza
In addition to prescribed treatments for psoriatic arthritis (PsA) pain, there are several things that you can do at home to help manage chronic PsA-related pain on a daily basis. These integrative pain management tips also benefit your overall health and wellbeing, including your mental health, and help you maintain a generally higher quality of life.
Check In With Your Diet
No diet can cure psoriatic arthritis, but what you eat when you have psoriatic arthritis matters. The foods you eat (and don’t eat) can directly impact your PsA symptoms and how frequently your condition flares up. If you have PsA, certain foods may reduce inflammation and potentially lead to longer periods of remission.
While there is no one single psoriatic arthritis diet, what you eat or avoid eating plays a role in your body’s inflammatory response and how PsA affects you. Ultimately, a diet focused on managing arthritic pain diet should be balanced and healthy — rich in fresh, whole foods that contain antioxidants, dietary fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. The recommended diet for PsA also minimizes or excludes trigger foods that contribute to inflammation. Trigger foods include processed sugars, saturated fats, and alcohol. In some cases, people with PsA find that excluding gluten or adopting an anti-inflammatory diet improves their symptoms and reduces flares.
Life is stressful. A chronic disease like psoriatic arthritis and its related pain often add even more stress. Evidence suggests stress plays an influential role in the severity of PsA and the ability to cope with chronic pain. In other words, learning to relax may help with pain relief.
A meditative practice known as mindfulness can help you relax, reduce stress, and promote emotional health. Mindfulness can help reduce anxiety and manage stress by developing body awareness and effective coping strategies.
The underlying principle of mindfulness rests in being mindful or aware of your presence in the current moment, in the space you’re inhabiting, as well as the sights, sounds, smells and other sensations around you at that present moment in time. You can choose from a variety of methods or approaches to mindfulness, from stopping to smell the flowers to using a guided meditation app or even just taking a few deep, intentional breaths. A therapist can also help teach you different techniques for mindfulness and can be a resource to help you better cope with stress of all types.
People with PsA tend to exercise less than people without PsA, but it’s not something you should skip out on even when your joints are feeling tender. Inadequate physical activity contributes to increased stiffness, pain, and other PsA symptoms. Not getting the recommended amount of exercise regularly also compounds the risks for developing comorbidities such as diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart disease.
On the other hand, exercise can help keep joints and tendons loose and limber, preserving the joints’ range of motion and maintaining flexibility. Exercise also helps control inflammation, a major source of pain in PsA. Regular physical activity can help build up your muscles’ strength, to better support the joints and decrease joint strain.
Exercise is an integral part of weight management, too. Being overweight or obese is an issue people with PsA are more likely experience, and extra weight is known to worsen the effects of PsA — making exercise and weight management key parts of pain mangement. What’s more, regular exercise can also help manage stress that may make you more sensitive to pain.
For the most suitable exercises for your psoriatic arthritis, talk to your doctor for their recommendations. In general, gentle exercises such as walking, water aerobics, or yoga are good choices.