Does psoriatic arthritis make the stress of everyday life more difficult or does everyday stress make psoriatic arthritis symptoms worse?
For many people with psoriatic arthritis, the answer is both. If you're one of them, don't despair: There are many stress management techniques to help you relieve symptoms of stress, as well as symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.
The Link Between Psoriatic Arthritis and Stress
You may have noticed that stressors, like marriage problems or a job loss, make your psoriatic arthritis worse. Maybe your psoriasis skin lesions flare up, or your symptoms -- including aching joints, morning stiffness, and swollen fingers and toes -- are far more bothersome.
Studies show that 30% to 70% people with psoriasis are "stress responders," meaning that emotional stress symptoms can trigger physical ups-and-downs in their disease. Some researchers think that the numbers are similar for people with psoriatic arthritis. But, although stress can be an important factor in flares, it's not the only cause.
The Psoriatic Arthritis Catch-22
The dilemma is this: Although stress can impact psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, both conditions themselves can have a major impact on the amount of stress you experience.
For example, it can be upsetting or embarrassing to go out when your skin is covered in psoriasis plaques or your joints are misshapen. And the discomfort and pain you feel can leave you stressed out, which could make your psoriatic symptoms worse -- and so on.
What's a person with psoriatic arthritis to do? First, try incorporating stress relief practices, including the following five tips, into your daily life. If you find that you're not able to lower your stress levels on your own, consult a health care professional for stress management help.
Psoriatic Arthritis, Stress, and Exercise
When you're feeling stressed out and your psoriatic arthritis symptoms are acting up, exercise can be one of the first things to go. But if you're tempted to bury those sneakers in the back of your closet, keep in mind that exercise can be an incredibly effective stress reliever. An added bonus? Exercise improves not only the emotional symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, but the physical ones, too.
If a gym doesn't appeal to you -- perhaps you're uncomfortable wearing exercise clothes in front of others because of your skin lesions -- you don't have to skip exercise altogether. Just pick activities you enjoy, like taking the dog for a brisk walk, watching your favorite television show as you ride a stationary bike, or water aerobics.
Because it can be stressful to begin a new exercise program, make sure you take it slow, especially when your joints are swollen and inflamed.