Psoriatic Arthritis Flare-Up? 5 Ways to Get Relief

Everyday Health—March 31, 2015

Psoriatic arthritis, which can attack joints anywhere in the body, affects everyone differently. Some people experience pain and stiffness in the hands, wrists, or elbows, while others feel stiffness in the feet, spine, hips, or shoulders. The intensity of symptoms during a flare-up also varies from one person to the next, making psoriatic arthritis a uniquely individual experience.

While medications help keep symptoms under control, flare-ups can’t always be avoided. Spotting the signs of a flare-up quickly and knowing how to manage the symptoms can help ease your discomfort.

When that happens, your joints might start to feel swollen, tender, and stiff, and you might develop areas of tendonitis or swelling of an entire finger or toe, says Theodore Fields, MD, director of the rheumatology faculty practice plan at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

It's important to be in tune with how you feel every day so you can recognize the signs of a flare-up and alert your doctor right away. The sooner you address symptoms, the faster you can get relief and prevent potential joint damage.

Easing Psoriatic Arthritis Flare-Ups

To deal with psoriatic arthritis symptoms during a flare-up, take these steps:

  1. Decrease pain and stiffness.
    For occasional discomfort, Fields says, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can be beneficial. Ask your doctor about increasing the dose during a flare-up. You can also try heat or ice at the source of discomfort, Fields says. If pain persists, he adds, your doctor may recommend prescription pain medication or a steroid injection at the affected joint.

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