Yes, we’ve tried yoga. No, acupuncture isn’t a cure.
Living with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Between dealing with swollen joints, fatigue, anxiety, and particularly painful days, the autoimmune disease comes with a unique set of challenges and hurdles that can make going about daily life difficult.
But it’s important to remember that while it can feel isolating at times, you’re not alone.
Rolling with the punches may help you tackle feelings of stiffness and soreness, and there are treatments available that can improve your symptoms.
Whether you have psoriatic arthritis yourself, or you want to better support and empathize with a friend or loved one, here is the good, the bad, and all the little, laughable things in between that come with a PsA diagnosis.
It doesn’t matter if your PsA affects your finger joints, your feet and ankles, or somewhere else in the body, waking up in the morning is a slow, drawn-out process for most of us.
For the first few hours of the day, moving around the house, making coffee, and getting dressed and ready feels a whole lot like being stuck in the body of the Tin Man.
The movement is stiff, slow, and quite limited in mobility until we warm up for the day.
The extent of your mobility and comfort level probably confuses friends and family — especially if your psoriatic arthritis mainly affects your finger joints.
Sure, you can work up a pretty decent sweat during a HIIT session or yoga class on a good day, but finding the strength to unscrew your protein powder or peanut butter jar afterward? That’s another story.
PsA can be a very tricky illness in that you never fully know how it will affect your joints day after day. However, it’s equally difficult to maintain a consistent energy level.
Hopefully, close friends and family understand when you have to cancel plans last minute or suggest a more laid-back activity, but trying to maintain a consistent level of energy when you need it is frustrating, nonetheless.
While finally having a name for your ailment can come with a lot of emotion, by the time you’ve been properly diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, it’s more of a relief than anything else.
You’ve likely been told you have something like plantar fasciitis, that you’re prone to sprains and pulled muscles, or that you’re wearing the wrong shoes.
Yes, you’ve tried acupuncture. You’ve tried following an anti-inflammatory diet. You’ve even dabbled with essential oils.
Well-meaning friends and family members may be trying to help you find something that will make your pain more manageable.
But that doesn’t make it any easier to have to explain that while diet and alternative treatments can sometimes help, they don’t do anything to lessen the effects of psoriatic arthritis.
While you know that no diet or lifestyle change will illuminate the root of your psoriatic arthritis, you’ve still read up on every little detail on maintaining an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
You probably take a turmeric supplement and avoid nightshade vegetables and sugar. Maybe you’ve even cut out gluten and alcohol or started meditating to reduce stress.
Whatever lifestyle changes you’ve decided to commit to, chances are you’ve impressed your doctor or rheumatologist with the sheer amount of knowledge you’ve acquired doing your own research.
Whether you have psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, or a combination of both autoimmune diseases, you likely dread the dark, cold months more than anything else.
Between keeping joints lubricated and the vitamin D from the sun’s rays, people with psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis tend to do a lot better in hot, humid conditions.
Most of us thrive come summertime and dream of spending our days laying out in the heat.
There’s no way around it: Living with sore, achy, and inflamed joints can take its toll.
Whether you were diagnosed in your 20s or your 70s, constantly having to worry about how you feel, whether you’ll be able to move normally, or if you’ll have the energy to tackle the day makes you feel a lot older than you really are — even on good days.
Whether it’s catching a friend glance at your swollen or misshapen knuckles, walking with a slight limp, or having to explain yet another dietary restriction or compression apparel you’re trying out, dealing with the effects of psoriatic arthritis can be embarrassing.
This is especially true if you’re someone who doesn’t exactly enjoy being the center of attention.
Sure, trying to conceal your swollen joints when you ask for help opening your toothpaste in the morning or covering up your limp while picking up your groceries isn’t exactly glamorous or sexy.
But you know more than anyone that going through life with chronic pain makes you incredibly tough and resilient.
While some days are worse than others, you know deep down that every small accomplishment, every sweaty yoga class, and every particularly strenuous home-cooked meal means a little bit more to you because you don’t take your strength for granted.
Kaitlyn McInnis is an international travel and lifestyle writer based in Montreal, Quebec. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Forbes, The Points Guy, Tatler Asia, and many other consumer and trade publications around the world. You can usually find her reading or writing from a hotel lobby or on Instagram.