Young asian man massage on his hand and arm for relief pain
Physiotherapy and medication are a couple pain management options for psoriatic arthritis pain.

Psoriatic Arthritis Pain

Psoriatic arthritis pain can interfere with your daily routine and limit your movements. When discomfort puts restrictions on your day-to-day tasks, it is time to look at your options to manage the pain.

6 Psoriatic Arthritis Pain Management Options

Currently, no cure exists, but there are options available for treatment. Psoriatic arthritis treatment focuses on controlling the disease and slowing its progression. The goal is to minimize inflammation in the joints to reduce joint pain and prevent disability to the patient.

1. Medication

Your doctor may advise or prescribe medication for your psoriatic arthritis symptoms. The good news is that there are several drugs used to treat psoriatic arthritis, which expands your options for drug treatment. These drugs include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation and are available over the counter. Stronger NSAIDs are available by prescription.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These can slow the progression of psoriatic arthritis and prevent permanent damage to joints and other tissues.
  • Biologics. They are used to stop or slow joint damage by psoriatic arthritis and are given by injection or intravenous infusion. These drugs are usually prescribed for psoriatic arthritis that has not responded to other treatments.
  • Immunosuppressants. They calm down your immune systems, which goes sideways in psoriatic arthritis.
  • Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors. They reduce pain, morning stiffness and swollen joints.

2. Steroid Injections

Doctors prescribe corticosteroid medications for the treatment of both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

The steroids (which can be applied topically or taken in pill form, if preferable to the injection), are synthetic versions of the natural hormones that are made by the body to control inflammation. Steroids are injected into the affected joint(s) to reduce inflammation quickly.

This treatment should be used infrequently, as too many injections too often can lead to joint damage and other complications.

3. Physiotherapy

Physiotherapists develop programs tailored to psoriatic arthritis patients to help increase strength, flexibility, range-of-motion, general mobility and exercise tolerance.

They use a variety of therapeutic treatments and strategies, like exercise and physical interventions, to help you find proper movement to perform everyday functions.

4. Occupational Therapy

An occupational therapist will observe and analyze your daily movements and create a program to help you protect your joints and minimize fatigue. They can help redesign the space around you (at home and work) to make it easier for you to get around.

Occupational therapists may recommend splints, braces, orthopedic shoes and other aids to increase mobility and functionality.

The objective of occupational therapy is to help you be as comfortable and independent as possible.

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5. Alternative Therapies

Most alternative therapies are safe, but you should consult your doctor before starting alternative therapy to ensure it doesn't interfere with any other treatments you may be receiving. Types of alternative therapy you may consider:

  • Acupressure: uses easy pressure on the body's key healing points to reduce pain and stress, increase circulation and boost your immune system.
  • Acupuncture: uses fine needles that are inserted into the skin to help with low back pain, headaches and nausea.
  • Massage: helps improve lymph circulation and promotes relaxation.
  • Reiki: an ancient Japanese energy healing technique used to address mental and emotional stress and provide healing.

6. Joint Replacement Surgery

There are times where other treatments aren't enough, so surgery may be a viable option. Severely and permanently damaged joints can be replaced with prostheses made out of metal and plastic. Research indicates that there are long-term benefits when a joint is replaced (some last as long as 20 years).

There are pros and cons to consider when it comes to surgery, but in the end, the decision comes down to how the surgery will impact your quality of life.

Psoriatic Arthritis Causes

Psoriatic arthritis happens when your body's immune system starts attacking healthy cells and tissue. This response triggers painful inflammation in your joints. It's not clear why the immune system malfunctions like this, but there is speculation that it is the result of genetic and environmental factors.

Most of those diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis have a family history of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Research shows that certain genetic markers may be linked to psoriatic arthritis. Physical trauma or environmental factors (a bacterial infection, for instance) may trigger psoriatic arthritis in those who have a parent or sibling with the disease.

The Takeaway

While you aren't able to rid yourself of psoriatic arthritis, there are some worthy options to relieve your discomfort. Talk to your doctor to determine which approach is best for you in order to resume your everyday activities with minimal impact from psoriatic arthritis.