PT and PsA: physical therapy’s role in an integrative approach to psoriatic arthritis treatment

Published - Aug 25, 2021

PT and PsA: Physical therapy’s role in an integrative approach to psoriatic arthritis treatment

Clinically reviewed by Darren Crout, PTA, TPI Cert.

August is Psoriasis Action Month, as recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the skin by speeding up the growth of skin cells, resulting in painful, thick red patches and silvery scales that can occur at any place on the skin. Psoriasis can also affect one’s fingernails, toenails and mouth.

The NPF states that nearly one-third of individuals with psoriasis will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis, generally about 10 years after their psoriasis appears. However, some individuals will develop arthritis that precedes their psoriasis, and some individuals with psoriatic arthritis will never go on to develop psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis, like psoriasis, is a chronic inflammatory condition.

The Mayo Clinic describes treatment for psoriatic arthritis as being multi-faceted, with options including medication; medical procedures (i.e. joint replacement surgeries and steroid injections); and lifestyle implementations, including the maintenance of a healthy weight, cessation of smoking, limiting alcohol and regular exercise.

According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, physical therapy can play an integral role in a psoriatic arthritis patient’s long-term treatment strategy by providing symptom relief and supporting overall health in terms of:

  • Maintaining and improving joint and spine mobility.
  • Strengthening the muscles around the joints and the spine.
  • Contributing to overall body stability.
  • Preventing the return or worsening of symptoms.

Additionally, occupational therapy services can provide patients with the strategies and the tools to adapt to everyday challenges that may be presented by psoriatic disease.

The NPF states that symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Tenderness, pain and swelling over tendons
  • Swollen fingers and toes
  • Stiffness, pain, throbbing, swelling and tenderness in one or more joints
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Morning stiffness
  • Nail changes (i.e. pitting or separation from the nail bed
  • Redness and pain in the eye (uveitis)
  • Psoriasis

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to visit your medical care provider immediately.

Therapists at IRG Physical & Hand Therapy are ready to work alongside psoriatic arthritis patients to establish personalized treatment plans that contribute to the achieving of each individual’s unique goals. Click here to request an appointment with an IRG therapist or call 425.316.8046 to learn more about starting the journey back to your best self.