7 Ways People with Psoriatic Arthritis Practice Self-Care
Finding ways to manage stress is important for everyone, and if you live with a chronic condition like psoriatic arthritis, stress can cause flare-ups. Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory form of psoriasis that is characterized by joint pain, stiffness and swelling.
One way that people who live with psoriatic arthritis can take care of their mental and physical wellbeing is through self-care and making other modifications to their daily routine, in addition to medical treatment. In an article for The Mighty, contributor Ellie Trinowski outlined some steps that she has taken to make her life with psoriatic arthritis easier.
Ask for help…be creative and consider the offers people have already made that you may not have accepted yet. Whatever you need to feel accomplished without utilizing your precious energy.
Finding self-care methods that work for you can be a trial and error process. So, we asked members of The Mighty’s psoriatic arthritis community to share ways that they practice self-care while living with chronic illness. You may find that you already do these, or find inspiration for new self-care activities.
This is what our community shared:
For me, 10 to 15 minutes in the hot tub upon waking gets my joints less stiff and helps reduce pain. Just before going to bed, another 10 to 15 minutes in the hot tub is soothing to the joints, helps reduce pain, and promotes relaxation and sleep.
Some studies suggest that thermal therapy slightly decreases chronic pain. However, hot water could lead to some people’s skin to become drier, which could aggravate psoriatic arthritis.
I try to remain in a stable environmental temperature around 74F. Avoiding extremes and frequent temp change place less demand on my joints.
As both the cold and warm weather could trigger flares for people living with psoriatic arthritis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, finding a stable temperature could help you manage your symptoms.
Holding ice cube in hand.
If your psoriatic arthritis affects your mental health or you need a distraction from your pain, this is a trick you can try. When you hold the ice cube, your mind will focus on the cold, which could distract you from what is on your mind or the pain you are in.
Several large ice packs (12×12″), I lay them on my be, lay down on them until the pain is numbed (15-20 mins), a tremendous friend for me! Hot showers, and a heating pad.
A 2014 study found that a combination of thermotherapy and cryotherapy can help manage acute lower back pain, so it may help manage other forms of chronic pain, like those triggered by psoriatic arthritis.
Exercise, when it comes down to it, there comes the time to say no. For many years I have walked, swam, did water aerobics and physical therapy. But, the time has come when my body is breaking down so rapidly that the advice no longer applies.
Exercise can be important in managing many chronic illnesses, but it is important to know your limits. If your body is telling you you’re pushing yourself too hard, it is okay to take a pause.
I wear winter gloves to the grocery shop. That prevents the development of severe hand pain.
Wearing compression gloves can help reduce swelling and pain. Wearing regular winter gloves could also help you stay warm if the cold is one of your triggers.
Knowing my limits. If a task or getting through my day gets too difficult, I allow myself to take a breather and watch movies.
Self-care doesn’t always need to focus on managing symptoms. You can also do stuff that makes you happy, like watching your favorite movie.
For more insight on psoriatic arthritis, check out these stories from our Mighty community:
- The Tough Choices I’ve Had to Make in Life With Chronic Pain
- The Mighty Style Diaries: Colorful and Comfortable With Psoriatic Arthritis
- To the Little Girl Who Called My Arthritis ‘Badass’
Share any self-care ideas that we might have missed to manage psoriatic arthritis in the comments below.