Psoriatic Arthritis Fatigue: Why It Happens & How To Manage It

Medically Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on May 01, 2023
3 min read

Yes. Studies show close to 80% of people with psoriatic arthritis have some degree of 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.

If you have psoriatic arthritis and need a nap to get through the day, some simple changes can boost your energy and make you feel better.

  1. Watch what you eat. Your body needs the right fuel. So opt for lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid sugars or starchy items that give you a short-term lift and then leave you drained.
  2. Stay active. Regular exercise like walking or swimming can ease your pain. That’ll help you sleep better. Activity can also boost your energy during the day.
  3. Skip caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bedtime. You might think smoking a cigarette, sipping hot tea, or having a cocktail will relax you. The truth is, they’ll make it harder for you to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  4. Set a solid sleep schedule. Your body prefers a routine at bedtime. Try to hit the sack at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Alarms on your clock or phone can help you stay on track.
  5. Don’t eat for 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. You may not be able to drift off if you're digesting a heavy meal. Stomach gas can also keep you awake.
  6. Relax before bedtime. Take a soothing, warm bath to ease your joint pain and stiffness. Listen to soft music or read a book to take your mind off your daily stress.
  7. Make your bedroom for sleep and sex only. Remove the TV, computer, cellphone, and other distractions. Keep the room dark, quiet, and cool.
  8. Use comfortable, supportive bedding. If your mattress and pillows aren’t comfy, you might not be able to stay asleep. Your pain may even get worse. Think about getting pillows or buying a new mattress.
  9. Figure out your energy boosters. Find ways to perk up when you feel tired during the day. Listen to upbeat music. Step outside into the sunshine. Take a short walk break at work. Or enjoy a good-for-you snack like fruit or nuts.
  10. Follow your treatment plan. Take your medications as prescribed to ease inflammation and pain. That should minimize fatigue. Set reminders on your phone so you don’t forget to take them. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if a medication could be to blame, but never adjust the dose or stop taking them on your own.
  11. Rule out other causes: Conditions that come along with psoriatic arthritis also cause fatigue, like fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety.
  12. Pace yourself: Realize your energy may be in short supply and plan out how you’re going to spend what you have during a day or week.
  13. Write it down: It can help to keep a journal of what causes your fatigue and when you notice it most. Is it a certain time of day or a response to an emotional situation? Over time, you’ll build a clear picture of how your body responds.