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How can heat and cold therapy help with psoriatic arthritis prevention?

Heat and cold therapy involves alternating moist heat and cold to affected joints to provide temporary relief of pain and swelling associated with psoriatic arthritis. Moist heat -- supplied by a warm towel, hot pack, or warm bath or shower -- can help relax aching muscles and relieve joint pain and soreness. Cold therapy -- supplied by a bag of ice or even frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel -- can reduce swelling and relieve pain by numbing the affected joints.

Are there some tips on joint protection and energy conservation?

Daily activities should be performed in ways that reduce excess stress and fatigue on joints. Proper body mechanics (the way you position your body during a physical task) may not only protect joints, but also conserve energy. People with psoriatic arthritis are encouraged to frequently change body position at work, at home, and during leisure activities. Maintaining good posture -- sitting and standing up straight and not arching your back -- is also valuable for preserving function.

Three techniques can help distribute workloads and stress throughout the body to prevent overworking affected joints:

  • Pacing: Alternate heavy, hard, or repetitive tasks with light or easy tasks, or with breaks from the activity.
  • Conservative joint use: Use joints in a manner that produces the least amount of stress on them, such as using larger, stronger joints in place of smaller ones whenever possible. For example, use a shoulder bag rather than a handheld purse.
  • Assistive devices: A variety of helpful devices, such as canes, grab bars, extra-thick pens, luggage carts, or sit/stand stools can relieve stress on joints and make daily activities more comfortable. An occupational therapist can help you select devices that are appropriate for your type of psoriatic arthritis.

 

What else might help with psoriatic arthritis prevention?

Treatment with medications that can alter the immune system of patients with psoriatic arthritis are currently the most effective type of treatment available.

Education is one of the foundations for managing this chronic and typically relapsing disorder. People with psoriasis should be familiar with the treatment options in order to make proper informed decisions about therapy. The National Psoriasis Foundation is an excellent organization that provides support to people with psoriasis.

 

What's the outlook for psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis tends to alternate between flare-ups and periods of improvement. Sometimes, psoriatic arthritis may lead to joint damage and severe disability. Infrequently, surgery may be necessary.

To prevent psoriatic arthritis from worsening, stay on your prescribed medications to control inflammation, pain, and stiffness. Be diligent in doing your daily exercise program to keep your joints moving in full range of motion. If you notice any new signs or pain check with your doctor or arthritis specialist.

 

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