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Coping With Psoriatic Arthritis

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Fighting a Lack of Confidence With Psoriatic Arthritis

Alice Gottlieb, MD, PhD, chair of dermatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, often sees her patients' self-confidence torn down by psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Although they are not all clinically depressed, they may often have a terrible self-image, Gottlieb says: "And many people who don't have the disease are happy to reinforce that image."

Instead of beating yourself up or letting other's expectations get you down, pick yourself up by:

  • Building your self-esteem. Psoriatic arthritis is a part of your life. But it doesn't have to define who you are. Don't shy away from others. Join a support group and spend more time with friends. Doing so can help you feel more comfortable with yourself and feel less self-conscious. "I've seen a lot of people in support groups develop confidence to be more proactive about their needs," Petrow-Cohen says.
  • Educating yourself. Learn what psoriatic arthritis is, and what it is not. It may help to know, for instance, that psoriatic arthritis is not contagious. "You need to become informed about your disease," Gottlieb says.

Preventing and Treating Psoriatic Arthritis Pains

Though others can't see it, pain is impossible to ignore when you're experiencing it. Pain can interfere with everything, from relationships to sleep, and the ability to function at work. Any effort you put into reducing your pain could pay off in many areas of your life. You may be able to shrink the effects of your psoriatic arthritis pain by:   

  • Getting treatment. Medications called TNF blockers can relieve pain from psoriatic arthritis while also preventing further damage to your joints. "With the right treatment, pain should be dramatically improved," Gottlieb says.
  • Avoiding triggers. You might get temporary relief from smoking or drinking, but not without risking your overall health. Plus, alcohol can have very serious side effects when combined with certain psoriasis medications. And heavy drinking can make some psoriatic arthritis medications less effective.
  • Finding an exercise plan that works for you. A 5-kilometer walk on Thanksgiving Day made Karen feel surprisingly better. Yoga, on the other hand, makes her feel worse.
    Psoriatic arthritis varies from person to person. What works for one may not work for another. But generally, moderate exercise can provide a number of physical and mental benefits for people with psoriatic arthritis. Consult with a physical therapist who can help you learn which activities meet your needs and abilities.
  • Eating a healthy diet. A diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, and low on fats and sugars, is not only good for your health. It's good for your weight. Losing excess pounds can also relieve pressure on your joints.

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