Psoriatic Arthritis: Causes of Your Fatigue

Fatigue is more than feeling drained after a long day at work. It's a serious symptom that can affect your quality of life and well-being. It could be from your psoriatic arthritis, the medications you're taking, or something about your lifestyle.

How Arthritis Causes Fatigue

When you have this disease, your body makes proteins, called cytokines, that cause inflammation. They make your joints swell and become painful or stiff.

These proteins may also cause fatigue, although doctors aren't sure why. When you have a flare, the cytokines set your immune system off. But instead of fighting an infection, your immune system attacks your joints. Maybe the fatigue comes from your body using energy to do this.

The joint pain and skin rashes that can come with this type of arthritis may also keep you from getting a good night's sleep. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, talk to your doctor. A medication might help you get better rest.


Fatigue can be a side effect of some drugs used to treat psoriatic arthritis, too. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, may make you drowsy. NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.

Some painkillers, such as tramadol, can also have this effect.


Lack of exercise. Get more physical activity to boost your energy level. It can also ease some joint pain so you sleep better.

Unhealthy snacks. Candy and refined starches like potato chips may give you a quick boost, but it doesn't last. They'll bring you down later.

Too much caffeine. Coffee or cola can give you a morning jump-start, but its effects are also short-lived. And drinking it later in the day can make it hard to fall asleep.

Stress. When you feel anxious and tense, it can take a toll on your sleep. Stress drains your energy.

Gadgets at bedtime. Don't use a device that glows, like a smartphone or tablet, before bedtime. The light tells your brain to stay awake.

Alcohol. While a nightcap may help you relax, alcohol actually makes it hard to stay asleep.

Missing your meds. Take your drugs the way your doctor prescribed them. They'll help control the inflammation and pain, which could cause fatigue.

Other Health Problems

Your fatigue might not be related to psoriatic arthritis. Other conditions that can make you feel wiped out include:

Talk to your doctor if you can't shake the sluggishness. You may need tests to figure out what's going on.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on May 11, 2017



Alice Gottlieb, MD, PhD, dermatologist-in-chief, Tufts Medical Center

Lee, S. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, December 2010

Sharon Mayo, health educator, National Psoriasis Foundation

The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (UK): “Why do I feel so tired?”
National Health Services (UK): “The energy diet.”

National Sleep Foundation: “Fatigue and Excessive Sleepiness,” “Can’t sleep? Psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis may be to blame.”

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