Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
Psoriatic arthritis symptoms are no joke, and we’d wager they’ve ruined a fair amount of fun times if you have the condition.
While you likely have a treatment plan in place from your doctor, there’s tons of buzz on the internet about home remedies and natural treatments for PsA.
That’s why we took it upon ourselves to filter out what’s legit and what’s not, so you can create the best plan possible for keeping those symptoms under control.
Remember: these aren’t a cure-all, and they’re meant to work in tandem with your doctor-approved plan — which means telling them about any proposed therapies you’d like to try before diving in!
Follow your doc’s advice, and these treatments can get you back on the dance floor (or, you know, whatever pain-free living looks like for you).
1. Embrace the scale, just this once
Normally we say screw the scale — you do you, as long as you’re healthy! But for people with PsA, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important ways to reduce symptoms outside of taking your meds.
If you’re trying to lose weight and struggling, keep in mind that you may not have to meet extreme weight-loss goals to achieve results.
In the long term, you’ll likely see greater benefits from a modest weight reduction than you would from yo-yo dieting.
A registered dietician can help you put together a meal plan that’ll both drive results and satisfy cravings (yummm).
2. Say it louder for the people in the back — quit smoking
We know, it’s 2019. Do people even still smoke? You bet — and yes, vaping counts.
This is a major problem because along with all the other groovy benefits of smoking — cancer, heart disease, emphysema, premature aging, brittle hair, yellow teeth — smoking is a known risk factor for developing PsA, and it may worsen the condition due to its inflammatory effects.
If you smoke, even infrequently — yes, that includes the occasional drunk cigarette — let your PsA be another motivator for quitting.
3. Chill out, man
Take it from The Dude, having an easy breezy attitude can do you some good. Research has shown that controlling stress levels can do wonders for PsA.
There’s not much research on what specific types of stress reduction routines might help most, so try whatever appeals to you. We love soothing music, essential oils, meditation, yoga, and bubble baths.
4. Respect your bedtime
What we know: Getting good sleep can combat the fatigue that often comes with PsA, whether as a result of the condition itself or some of the medications used to treat it.
The best way to set yourself up for a night of snoozing success? Make it a special ritual at night. Keep screens out of the bedroom and make sure you go to bed at the same time every night.
Also, follow these tips for sleeping like a log all night, every night.
1. Get physical, physical… therapy
Physical therapy and low-impact exercise may help some people with PsA maintain joint mobility, although more research is needed.
In addition to soothing PsA symptoms, exercise is just a good rule of thumb for overall health (the benefits are legit).
As with anything, pay attention to how you’re feeling and never try to push through a workout if you’re experiencing pain — you may risk causing damage to your joints.
Our top exercises for people with PsA:
- weight training
- tai chi
2. Cut back on the booze
We know — Wine Not Wednesdays are the best! But, taking it easy on the Chardonnay can help control inflammation, and in turn your PsA.
Although the link between alcohol consumption and PsA is still being researched, cutting back on the sauce can also lead to better sleep, reduced sugar intake, and weight loss — so really, it’s a win-win.
3. Switch up your diet
Can certain foods limit symptoms of painful inflammatory conditions? We can’t say for sure, but the science is promising. Is a healthy diet important for all people of all ages? Heck yes.
While it’s not a cure-all, here are some foods that can help:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: like fish oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts, and flax seeds
- Antioxidant-rich foods: like dark berries, leafy greens, and dark chocolate
- Fiber-filled whole grains: like oats, brown rice, and quinoa
4. Enjoy your coffee in moderation
Although it has previously been suggested that coffee is harmful for patients with psoriasis and possibly PsA, recent research shows that it’s probably okay to consume in moderation and that, bonus, it may have mild benefits.
5. Try needlepoint
Not sewing, though if that’s your thing, enjoy! We’re talking about acupuncture.
Needles likely don’t rank high on your list of good-time activities, but more and more research is showing that this ancient practice can ease pain and relax muscles.
Just be aware this isn’t a one-and-done procedure.
Acupuncture treatment for PsA requires multiple sessions over time. Just how many and how often needs to be determined by you, your acupuncturist, and of course, your main squeeze — your doctor.
Not all add-on therapies are created equal, which is why it’s important to be aware of the PsA “treatments” with iffy science or other complications before adding it to your treatment plan.
Here are some of the options that fall flat:
1. The gluten-free diet when you don’t need to be gluten-free
Psoriasis and PsA do appear to be correlated with celiac disease, a condition in which eating gluten causes intestinal inflammation, and those with celiac should absolutely be consuming a gluten-free diet.
However, gluten-free diets are restrictive, which can make it harder to get certain nutrients that are essential for healthy living.
If you believe you may have a problem with gluten because you experience symptoms such as bloating and diarrhea after consuming it, talk to your doctor about the possibility that you may have celiac disease.
Unless you’re confirmed to have such a problem, a gluten-free diet probably won’t help your PsA.
2. Vitamins D & B
Some small studies have suggested vitamin D3, vitamin B12, and selenium may be beneficial for psoriasis and possibly PsA, but so far, larger studies have not supported those treatments.
Many small studies have been done on Vitamin D3, but in double-blind, randomized controlled trials, vitamin D3 did not perform better than a placebo in treating psoriasis, and the same goes for vitamin B12.
Vitamin and mineral supplements may seem harmless, but they can have side effects, especially in high doses, so it’s best to save your $$ until more legitimate research comes along.
3. Herbal supplements
Sadly, those herbs might be best left in the kitchen. There’s little to no evidence that herbal supplements help treat PsA. Some can even interact with your medications, so if you do choose to take them, make sure you disclose that to your doctor.
- PsA is a serious condition that absolutely requires a doctor-approved treatment plan. Delaying medical treatment can even lead to irreversible joint damage.
- If your current medications aren’t controlling your symptoms or are causing side effects, let your doctor know — there are many different medications for PsA, and finding the right regimen for you may take time.
- By combining your prescribed treatment with evidence-based suggestions such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep, you’ll have the best chance of living your best life with PsA.