It's Personal, I have Psoriatic Arthritis
I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis 2 years ago. Sixteen years prior, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. The symptoms of PSA and Fibromyalgia overlap, as they do with most inflammatory arthritis types so I place no blame on the long journey I took to the new diagnosis. These are tricky diseases and for me, the development was slow. So I've had this disease about 18 years.
My father has Rheumatoid Arthritis and my grandfather did as well. I know what the lack of treatment and understanding of the disease looks like as I watched the disease destroy my Grandfather's body. If you aren't familiar with inflammatory arthritis's (there are many types), the inflammation of the joints can cause severe deformity. Fortunately my father and I are living with these diseases at a time where some of the greatest advancements in autoimmune disease is happening. Our prognosis is much better than the fate of my Grandfather.
There are plenty of challenges when you live with PSA, which become life changing. I'm a pretty positive person, so I like to look at these as differences but not necessarily negatives to the way I live my life. Every one has a different experience.
Psoriatic arthritis is a painful, sometimes debilitating condition. It affects the joints and skin and causes itchy, scaly patches. It is common and occurs in people of all ages, but it’s more likely to affect women than men. It is often triggered by an infection that sparks your immune system to attack your joints. I personally don't have plaque psoriasis, rather the type that affects my joints.
Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling: This is the most common symptom of psoriatic arthritis and affects all types of joints. It can make it hard to take care of yourself or move around, and may be worse in the morning or after resting.
Fatigue: Dealing with chronic pain can be exhausting, and it's hard to focus on everyday tasks when you're tired. A lack of energy can also make it difficult to sleep, which makes the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis worse at night. This was one of my first symptoms. Sometimes I feel like I am living in a constant battle of energy conservation.
RLS (restless legs syndrome): This is a common symptom of psoriatic disease that usually starts in the lower back and knees, but can be spread to other parts of your body. It makes it hard to fall asleep, and can cause a pulling, crawling, itching, or throbbing sensation in your legs that you can't get rid of at night. My RLS is terrible. It often keeps my husband up because I'm pulling at the sheets moving my legs to get them comfortable. Most of the time, only getting up and walking around eases the RLS pain.
Dactylitis: This is another symptom of psoriatic arthritis, and involves the small joints and entheses of your fingers or toes. It can look like sausage digits and is very painful.
Getting treatment can help relieve the pain and improve the skin symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Your doctor will work with you to choose the best medication to suit your specific needs.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes to help control the condition and reduce inflammation. This can include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, taking a vitamin or mineral supplement, and reducing stress in your life.
Other medical tests: A blood test, an X-ray of your joints, or a bone scan can tell your doctor what type of arthritis you have. The test can help your doctor decide which treatment will work best for you.
A culture fluid test can also tell your doctor whether you have gout, an inflammation of the uric acid crystals in the joint fluid. If you have gout, your doctor will need to use a different form of medication than if you have PsA.
You will need to try a number of different medications until you find the right one. This can take some time and patience, but it can be worth it in the end to control the pain and discomfort that psoriatic arthritis causes.
The most important thing is to be consistent with your doctor's advice and follow the treatment plan that works for you. Having the right medication will give you the best chance of preventing long-term joint damage and allowing you to live a full and active life.
How to dress with arthritis: It’s important to wear clothes that fit comfortably and allow your arms and legs to move freely. Soft beautiful clothes are especially important if you have psoriatic arthritis because the fabric helps to protect your skin and ease your joint pain.
When I developed the Undersummers Shortlette, I needed a comfortable and cool solution to wear under dresses that would not cause additional pain, irritation, or swelling to my already uncomfortable situation. This is one of the main reasons that I started Undersummers!