There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, but there are many treatments that can be used to prevent and ease symptoms.
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the cells and antibodies of the immune system are misdirected against one's own tissues. Rarely, a person can have psoriatic arthritis without even having obvious psoriasis. Often, however, the more severe the skin symptoms are, the greater the likelihood a person will have psoriatic arthritis, a form of inflammatory arthritis.
How can I prevent and ease symptoms of psoriatic arthritis?
By understanding psoriatic arthritis and knowing what to expect, you can learn new ways to perform daily tasks or plan activities during the times and days you are least bothered by the effects of the disease. Once you understand and learn to predict the ways in which your body responds to psoriatic arthritis, you can use medications, exercise and other therapies to alleviate discomfort and reduce stress and fatigue. Again, there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis. But there are many ways to prevent and ease its symptoms.
How can splinting help my psoriatic arthritis?
Your doctor may recommend splinting to help with inflammation or problems with joint alignment or stability. Splints also can help minimize joint destruction that can be seen with psoriatic arthritis. Wrist or finger splints may help rest joints at night or hold them in a comfortable position during work or exercise.
However, joints should not be totally immobilized. Splints should be removed periodically to perform gentle range-of-motion exercises to maintain mobility in those joints.
Is exercise an important component of psoriatic arthritis prevention?
Moderate, regular exercise may relieve joint stiffness and pain associated with psoriatic arthritis. A tailored program of range-of-motion and strengthening exercises, combined with cardiovascular exercise, can help do the following:
- Relieve arthritis symptoms
- Maintain normal joint movement
- Increase flexibility and muscle strength
- Maintain weight to reduce pressure on joints
- Improve endurance and cardiovascular fitness
What about water therapy and psoriatic arthritis prevention?
Water therapy (hydrotherapy or aqua therapy) is a program of exercises performed in a large pool. Water therapy may be easier on painful joints from psoriatic arthritis, because the water takes some of the weight off the affected areas. Appropriate, recreational exercise also may be beneficial, but only if it is preceded by a program of range-of-motion, strength, and aerobic exercises to reduce the chance of injury. Regardless of the exercise program you select, it's important to choose one you enjoy so that you maintain it.
Exercise programs can be done at home or with a physical therapist and are customized according to the disease and physical capabilities of each patient. Warm-up stretching, or other techniques -- such as hot showers or heating pads -- are helpful to relax muscles prior to exercise. Ice application after the routine can help minimize post-exercise soreness and inflammation. In general, exercises for psoriatic arthritis are performed for the purpose of strengthening and maintaining or improving joint range of motion. They should be done on a regular basis for best results.