Psoriatic arthritis can be extremely invalidating and have a significant impact on everyday life, and those suffering from the disease are often unsure about what they can and cannot do, and how to find some relief for their condition. Here are 6 ways to protect your joints.
Psoriatic arthritis affects around 100,000 people in Italy, with an onset generally between 30 and 50 years of age. The disease can affect up to six different areas of the body, starting with peripheral joints such as the knees, wrists, ankles and shoulders, causing swelling, pain and stiffness. Although many effective drug treatments are now available, there is still no cure, and the disease can severely compromise the quality of life of its sufferers. To answer the most frequent doubts and questions of those suffering from psoriatic arthritis, the Natalino Corazza Foundation president Valeria Corazza has created a booklet explaining to patients how to protect their joints as they go about their daily lives. Here are the 6 most important rules.
1. Know your body
It is important to identify the times each day and the activities that trigger your pain or make it worse. Based on these observations, you can then find alternative ways to carry out your tasks.
2. Spread loads over the strongest joints
The larger the joint, the stronger it is, meaning the larger joints can support more weight than the smaller ones. Overloading the small joints can strain the joint structures and cause pain: this is especially true of the small hand joints, so if you have to wipe the table with a sponge, for example, use the palm of your open hand instead of just your fingers.
3. Try to avoid remaining immobile for too long in the same position
Staying in the same position for a long time is not ideal, because it tends to make the joints stiff. Prolonged immobilisation of a joint for days or weeks can also greatly weaken the muscle that moves it. If you notice your knees becoming stiff at the theatre or the cinema when you have been sitting for a while, try sitting on the aisle so you have space to stretch your legs out every so often.
4. Lighten the load on your joints
People who suffer from arthritis tend to limit their movement due to pain, which often leads to overweight and obesity, which then overloads the muscles and the joints, especially those in the lower part of the body (pelvis, knees and ankles). Losing weight helps to reduce pain, making you feel better and more energetic.
5. Maintain the correct posture
Keeping a posture that is too relaxed or too stiff, or remaining seated or standing for long periods in the same position can lead to back pain. Good posture is an effective strategy to prevent pain caused by arthritis: it might be hard work at the beginning, but over time it will become more natural and require a lot less effort.
6. Get moving!
Physical exercise plays an important role in controlling your weight and preventing cardiovascular disease. An exercise programme designed especially for you helps to reduce pain and improve joint function. Not all types of sport are suitable, but walking, swimming and cycling are generally safe activities you can do without any problems, although if you have arthritis, there are things you should do to exercise safely, such as warming up for longer beforehand. Consult a physiotherapist or occupational therapist for a tailor-made aerobic exercise programme that is both effective and suitable for you.