First Steps Toward PsA Treatment
A chronic disease can be a lot to deal with. Focus on these four things to start managing psoriatic arthritis.
If you just learned you have psoriatic arthritis (PsA), you may feel confused as to what to do first. Use these four steps to get on the right track.
Know Your Disease
First, learn about PsA and how it affects you. It can show up in your skin, joints, nails, tendons, ligaments and spine. Your PsA may not behave like someone else’s or what you read online.
Ask your doctors what to expect. Talk about what medicines are best for you. Learn to recognize a flare, when to contact your doctor and what you can do at home to feel better
Line Up Your Team
PsA is a single disease but treating it may require a team. Rheumatologists handle arthritis. Dermatologists take care of your skin. A primary care doctor will take care of your general health and look for other health problems, like heart disease, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. Your job is to choose your team and get all the players to talk to each other. Many insurance companies have people who will help you coordinate your treatment.
Some medical centers offer combined dermatology-rheumatology clinics so you can get your care in one place. You can ask your insurer or primary care doctor to recommend specialists who treat PsA.
If you can’t find a specialist near you, video office visits may be an option.
Engage in Shared Decision Making
Shared decision making is when you work with your doctors to make decisions based on what you care about most. This is key in PsA because medicines that work well for one aspect of your disease may not work well for another.
Your doctor might suggest a drug that can clear skin plaques but isn’t great for arthritis. Yet maybe your skin doesn’t bother you as much as your joints. You want to keep playing soccer or you have a job that keeps you on your feet. Or you care most about your hands and nails because of the work you do. Let your doctor know what matters to you so you get the best treatment.
A good doctor-patient relationship is built on trust. You understand and respect your doctor’s point of view. Your doctor, in turn, understands and respects yours. This kind of medical teamwork improves care and health outcomes.
It’s easy to feel down when you have a chronic illness. Connect with others who understand how you feel to improve your mood and outlook. Online or local support groups can help. The Arthritis Foundation’s LiveYes Network is a great place to start. There’s an online community for people living with PsA as well as LiveYes connect groups around the country. You can volunteer with through one of our local offices or attend a Walk to Cure Arthritis or Jingle Bell run in your city. Just find an environment that makes you feel empowered and supported.
Diagnosed With Psoriatic Arthritis?
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