How a healthy lifestyle and open communication may help with psoriatic arthritis
Content provided by Pfizer Inc.
Living with a chronic autoimmune and inflammatory illness like psoriatic arthritis (PsA)[i] can have a meaningful impact on many aspects of a person’s daily life. Symptoms can vary from person to person and may include joint pain and stiffness, tenderness where tendons or ligaments attach to bones, swelling of the fingers or toes, and stiffness in the neck and lower back.[ii] Not only can the disease be complex, it can also be difficult to diagnose, which may delay appropriate treatment.[iii]
As part of an ongoing commitment to patients with psoriatic arthritis, Pfizer launched a global initiative called the PsA Narrative to elevate the voice of those living with psoriatic arthritis and to help improve the lives of people living with this chronic condition. This initiative was led by Pfizer with input from the Global PsA Narrative Advisory Committee, a panel of physicians and patient organizations from eight countries.
To better understand the challenges of psoriatic arthritis, Pfizer surveyed adults living with psoriatic arthritis from around the world, including 301 individuals from the U.S. The U.S. findings of the PsA Narrative survey suggest psoriatic arthritis can impact many important characteristics of a patient’s life, and productive patient-physician dialogue can be key to helping improve the outcomes for those living with this disease. The Global PsA Narrative Advisory Committee has created some helpful tips to improve the outcomes of those living with this debilitating disease.
According to the PsA Narrative survey, some of the most commonly reported symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are joint pain (n=260/301), stiffness (n=226/301) and swelling (n=210/301),[iv] which can limit range of motion, making it hard for people living with the condition to move freely.[v]
Tip: One way that people living with psoriatic arthritis can help manage these symptoms is through exercise. Dr. Amar Majjhoo, rheumatologist at Shores Rheumatology in Michigan and member of the Global PsA Narrative Advisory Committee, suggests patients try low-impact activities like swimming, cycling or walking[vi] as “building muscle relieves pressure on joints and stretching can help reduce inflammation.” Remember to always speak with a doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
Reduce and manage stress
In addition to physical symptoms, the PsA Narrative survey results reported that more than nine in ten people living with psoriatic arthritis say it has negatively impacted their emotional and mental well-being (n=277/301).[iv] More than half of respondents reported feeling emotional distress (n=180/301)[iv] and more than one in three experienced social shame or disapproval (n=105/301).[iv]
Tip: Excess stress may worsen flares and make it harder to manage daily activities, explained Majjhoo, “so it is important to find ways to reduce and manage stress, such as meditating, listening to music, or joining a support group in addition to your treatment plan.”[iv]
Psoriatic arthritis can impact a person’s lifestyle beyond physical and emotional health. Of those who participated in the survey, nearly three in four said that psoriatic arthritis has negatively affected their career path (n=222/301)[iv] and their relationship with family and friends (n=225/301).[iv] As a result, one in five have taken medical leave due to the condition (n=63/301)[iv] and over half have stopped participating in social activities (n=155/301).[iv]
Tip: It’s important for people with psoriatic arthritis to feel comfortable talking to their family, friends and employers. “Asking others to make simple accommodations, such as a leisurely walk through town instead of hiking, or even using a trackpad instead of a mouse may make the day easier,” Majjhoo said. “Don’t be afraid to speak up. The people in your life want you to do what’s best for your health.”
Be open and honest
Open communication is helpful in managing psoriatic arthritis, especially when it comes to working with a doctor. Yet, the PsA Narrative revealed people living with psoriatic arthritis may not be communicating how they truly feel. Of the 85 percent (n=256/301)[iv] of patients who worked with a rheumatologist to manage their disease, over 90 percent (n=239/256)[iv] said they felt comfortable raising fears and concerns. However, some worried they would be perceived as difficult patients if they asked too many questions. Some patients often tell their rheumatologist they are fine when they are actually experiencing psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
The PsA Narrative found that nearly nine in ten patients currently taking prescription medication for psoriatic arthritis who reported satisfaction with their treatment (n=262/295)[iv] are continuing to experience symptoms (n=251/262).[iv]
Tip: “Some patients have trouble being honest and open with their doctors, but there are ways people with psoriatic arthritis can help better their communication with their healthcare team,” noted Majjhoo. “Prepare ahead of the appointment by creating a list of questions or keeping a journal of symptoms and flare-ups.”
To learn more about the findings of the PsA Narrative and the impact of psoriatic arthritis on daily life, visit www.pfizer.com/psanarrative.
[i] What is psoriatic arthritis? | National Psoriasis Foundation https://www.psoriasis.org/sites/default/files/psoriatic_arthritis_fact_sheet_1.pdf. Accessed August 14, 2018
[ii] National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) National Institutes of Health. Psoriatic Arthritis Overview. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/psoriatic-arthritis. Accessed August 14, 2018. Page 2/Paragraph 3/Lines 1-10.
[iii] National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Psoriatic Arthritis Overview. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/psoriatic-arthritis. Accessed August 14, 2018.
[iv] Data on file. Pfizer Inc, New York, NY.
[v] Arthritis Foundation. Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms. http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/psoriatic-arthritis/symptoms.php. Accessed August 14, 2018.
[vi] Everyday Health. The Right Exercises Can Bring Psoriatic Relief. https://www.everydayhealth.com/psoriatic-arthritis/symptoms.php. Accessed August 14, 2018.