Psoriatic Arthritis Tips From Physical and Occupational Therapists
Don't Miss This
Sign Up for Our Living with Psoriasis Newsletter
Thanks for signing up!
If you're having difficulty living the life you want because of the joint damage and pain of psoriatic arthritis, adding a new member or two to your medical team can make a world of difference.
Physical and occupational therapy are two complementary therapies designed to strengthen muscles around affected joints, increase flexibility and range of motion, and protect joints from further damage. A skilled physical or occupational therapist can assess your current abilities and find ways to make moving easier for you, whether at home or at work.
Added to the conventional psoriatic arthritis treatments of medication and healthy lifestyle changes, a physical or occupational therapy program can be tailored to your unique needs, strengths, and weaknesses.
A physical or occupational therapy program often is based on where the affected joints are on your body. For instance, some people with psoriatic arthritis experience pain in their knees, orhands, and for others, the joints in the spine may be inflamed.
The first step is a full evaluation by a qualified occupational or physical therapist, says John Indalecio, OTR/L, CHT, an occupational hand therapist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. The therapist can assess your needs and structure the most effective approach for you.
4 P’s of Occupational Therapy for Psoriatic Arthritis
Occupational therapy for psoriatic arthritis can include four simple rules for energy conservation, Indalecio says. “Energy conservation is important because autoimmune diseases are a burden on the body,” he explains. “Prevention of over-fatigue can help restorative processes in the body combat systemic disease.”
The four rules include:
Positioning: Sometimes simple position changes around the house or office can make a big difference in psoriatic arthritis symptoms, Indalecio says. “If you cook a lot and tend to use one pot more than others, leave that pot on the stove to eliminate any unnecessary lifting or bending,” he says.
Prioritizing, pacing, and planning: This means taking a look at what you have to do each day and developing a strategy that works best for you. “An occupational therapist will suggest spacing out tasks so you don’t have to shop for groceries and clean the kitchen floor all in the same day,” Indalecio says. “If your joint pain and stiffness is worse in the morning, it makes sense to do strenuous activities later in the day.”
Occupational therapy also involves some arthritis exercises designed to boost flexibility and increase energy, which Indalecio says will help make all of your tasks easier to perform.
An occupational therapist can also recommend adaptive tools to help you better perform the activities of daily living, maintain independence, and have a better overall quality of life while protecting inflamed and painful joints. There are more innovative tools available today than ever before to help people with psoriatic arthritis live better, Indalecio says. “Adaptive tools help to reduce stress in joints.” For example, if you have trouble with a tight grasp, you could use tools with a special handle, and padding could be added to certain items around the house to make them easier to grab. Don't push through pain, he adds.
The Benefits of Physical Therapy for Psoriatic Arthritis
A physical therapist has some of the same goals as an occupational therapist when treating a person with psoriatic arthritis, says Shari Kurzer, PT, a physical therapist in Stamford, Connecticut. “The main goal is to maintain flexibility and range of motion, and this usually starts with a regular exercise program that includes strength training, stretching, and some aerobic activity,” she says.
Here are Kurzer’s tips for exercising with psoriatic arthritis:
Getting started: Warming up and cooling down are especially important for people with joint pain because these movements better prepare the body, she says.
Strengthening: For strengthening, low weights and high repetitions is the way to go to build up the muscles that surround the joints. "It’s important to work with a therapist who has experience treating people with psoriatic arthritis, who will make sure that you’re not putting too much pressure on your joints, and who will help adjust your form to maximize the benefits of the exercise," Kurzer says.
Aerobic exercise: This type of exercise is important because it can help you get and keep your weight down, and that means less pressure on inflamed joints. The caveat is that certain weight-bearing, foot-pounding exercises may be too painful for you. “I generally recommend closed-chain exercises such as the elliptical machine or the stationary bike, where your foot never leaves the ground,” Kurzer says. This provides the bone-building, weight-control benefits of aerobic exercise without harming your joints. “For people with severe joint pain, water exercises may be more appropriate psoriatic arthritis exercises because water takes pressure off the joints," she says.
Kurzer cautions against working through pain if you have psoriatic arthritis. “Heat and ice can help with pain and are an important part of therapy,” she says.
If psoriatic arthritis is interfering with your ability to do everyday tasks, know that there are specialists who can help. Talk to your doctor to see if working with a physical or occupational therapist is right for you.
Video: Physical Therapy Treatments : How to Relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Moroccanoil Treatment Review
31 Cool Balayage Ideas for Short Hair
20 Fashionable Spring Outfit Ideas for 2019
12 Amazing Trips to Take This Fall to Avoid Big Crowds
The 7 Best Natural Peanut Butters to Buy in 2019
Gwyneth Paltrow: The Cover Shoot
Savory Southwestern Sweet Potato Waffles
12 Facts about napping you were not aware of
Air Pollution Linked to Increased Stroke Risk