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5 Questions To Help You Talk to Your Doctor About Psoriatic Arthritis

You’ve already been dealing with the visible symptoms of psoriasis, but now your health care provider expects a painful yet sometimes invisible condition that affects one out of every three people with psoriasis: psoriatic arthritis (PsA). You’re used to tracking your psoriasis symptoms by looking at your skin, but PsA is different because the inflammation damaging your joints isn’t always visible from the outside. Additionally, your joint pain and stiffness from PsA may not always correlate with the severity of your skin symptoms, even though people with more severe plaque psoriasis are thought to be at a higher risk for developing PsA. So, you may have noticed some stiffness in the morning, pain and/or swelling of your joints, fatigue, or changes to your nails — all symptoms of psoriatic arthritis — but the intensity of these symptoms may not match up with your skin symptoms. 

In order to manage these psoriatic arthritis symptoms, you’ve most likely been referred to a rheumatologist to help manage your PsA, and you probably have concerns about your diagnosis. Consider using these questions at your next appointment to help you communicate with your rheumatologist about your PsA and get the information and plans you need to manage your PsA and feel better.

  1. What caused my PsA?

The answer to this question is not always straightforward. PsA is part of an autoimmune condition and these can sometimes be hereditary but not always. Your psoriasis also didn’t cause your PsA even though they are related. Even though your doctor may not be able to give you a definitive answer, there are some things like a history of smoking or joint damage that could contribute to developing PsA, so it’s always worth it to ask because you may gain some insight by reviewing your health history with your doctor.

  1. How will we treat my PsA? 

You and your doctor may develop a treatment plan for you based on the severity of your condition, the frequency and intensity of your flares, and how your PsA has progressed. 

Your plan may include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, physical therapy, and/or anti-inflammatory drugs. You and your doctor will be able to come up with an individualized plan that addresses the symptoms and progress of your PsA. 

  1. How will my PsA progress? 

Promptly visiting your rheumatologist and developing a treatment plan can help slow down the joint damage that occurs with PsA. PsA is a chronic condition, but treatment can help control its progress. Discussing your individual case with your healthcare provider can help you get a better understanding of how your PsA can progress. 

  1. How can we help manage my pain? 

Your quality of life with PsA is important, and your health care provider should have a variety of tools at their disposal to help you manage the pain that comes from your PsA. Don’t hesitate to voice your concerns about pain or discomfort with your healthcare provider in order to get yourself the care you need. 

  1. What lifestyle changes and self-care do you recommend? 

Healthcare providers can recommend ways like nutrition and low-impact exercises to help the inflammation and stiffness that comes with PsA. Massages and physical therapy can also aid in easing your discomfort. The lifestyle changes that you and your healthcare provider discuss can make up part of your treatment or self-care plan.

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