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Self-help and daily living for psoriatic arthritis

Exercise

Inflammation can lead to muscle weakness and stiffness in the joints. Exercise is important to prevent this and to keep your joints working properly.

However, inflammation can also make you feel unusually tired so you may find you need to take more rests than usual.

Your doctor or a physiotherapist will be able to advise on suitable forms of exercise depending on which joints are most affected. However, you'll need to find out for yourself the right balance between rest and exercise.

Read more about fatigue and arthritisexercise and arthritis and looking after your joints when you have arthritis.

Diet and nutrition

No specific diets have been found to be very effective for psoriatic arthritis, although some people find that fish body oils (not fish liver oils) from salt-water fish reduce the need for anti-inflammatory drugs.

Being overweight will put extra strain on your joints, particularly in your legs and back. It's also important to control your weight because of the increased risk of heart disease. We recommend a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.

Read more about diet and arthritis.

Complementary medicine

Generally speaking, complementary and alternative therapies are relatively well tolerated, but you should always discuss with your doctor if you want to try them.

There are some risks associated with specific therapies, but in many cases the risks associated with them are more to do with the therapist than the therapy. This is why it's important to go to a legally registered therapist, or one who has a set ethical code and is fully insured.

If you decide to try therapies or supplements, you should be critical of what they're doing for you, and base your decision to continue on whether you notice any improvement.

Read more about complementary and alternative medicine for arthritis.

Work and benefits

People with arthritis are likely to have some difficulties with work, but help is available. Work assessment and, if necessary, retraining can be arranged by a Disability Employment Advisor (DEA). You can contact an advisor through your local Jobcentre Plus office.

The Employment Medical Advisory Service can also help by providing equipment to make it easier for you to do your job.

Benefits are available if you're unable to work or have mobility problems. A health or social worker or your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to advise you on which benefits you may be able to claim.

Read more about work and arthritis.

Sex and pregnancy

Sex can sometimes be painful, particularly for a woman whose hips are affected. Experimenting with different positions will usually provide a solution.

Psoriatic arthritis won't affect your chances of having children. The arthritis may improve during the pregnancy, although your symptoms may return after the baby is born.

Some of the drug treatments given for psoriatic arthritis should be avoided when trying to start a family. For instance, sulfasalazine can cause a low sperm count (this isn't permanent) and you shouldn't try for a baby if you're on methotrexate, or retinoids, or have been using them in recent months.

If you're thinking about starting a family, you should discuss your drug treatment with your doctor well in advance so that your medications can be changed if needed.

Both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis do tend to run in families to some extent. If there’s a history of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis in your family, your children may be more likely than most to get psoriatic arthritis, but the risk of passing it on directly is still low.

Read more about pregnancy and arthritis and sex and arthritis.

Living with psoriatic arthritis

Any long-term condition can affect your moods and confidence, and it can have an impact on your work, social life and relationships. Talk things over with a friend, relative or your doctor if you do find your condition is getting you down.

You can also contact support groups if you want to meet other people with psoriatic arthritis.

Smoking

If you smoke, it's important to stop – as well as stopping smoking being good for your health in general, smoking can make several forms of psoriasis worse. Speak to your doctor for advice on stopping smoking, or visit the NHS Smokefree website.

For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.