Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic Arthritis

Article by Shane Armfield

Psoriatic Arthritis

Understanding and Managing: A Physiotherapist’s Perspective


Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects both joints and skin. Typically linked with psoriasis, a skin condition characterised by a red, scaly rash, PsA can significantly impact quality of life. However, with the right approach, including physiotherapy, lifestyle adjustments, and medical treatment, managing PsA effectively is possible. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of PsA from a physiotherapist’s perspective, emphasising the latest research and management strategies.

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis causes painful inflammation in and around the joints. It commonly affects individuals with psoriasis but can also appear before any skin symptoms or without them. The pain arises from nerve irritation due to inflammation and stretching of the joint capsule. When inflammation subsides, the stretched capsule may leave the joint unstable and painful.

Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis

The symptoms of PsA can vary but often include:

  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Swollen fingers or toes (dactylitis)
  • Buttock pain, stiff back or neck (spondylitis)
  • Heel pain
  • Enthesitis (pain where tendons attach to bones)
  • Nail changes (pitting, discolouration, thickening)
  • Fatigue
Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic Arthritis

Causes and Diagnosis

The exact cause of PsA is unknown, but a combination of genetic factors and possibly infection are thought to play roles. Overweight individuals are at higher risk. Diagnosis is complex due to varied symptoms and includes physical exams, imaging tests, and blood tests for inflammation markers like ESR and CRP.

Latest Research and Treatment Approaches

Recent research in PsA management highlights the effectiveness of targeted biologic therapies and small molecule medications. These treatments focus on specific parts of the immune system to reduce inflammation and prevent joint damage.

Treatment typically involves:

  • Skin treatments with ointments or light therapy
  • Medications like NSAIDs, DMARDs, and steroids
  • Newer biologic agents and JAK inhibitors

Physiotherapy for Psoriatic Arthritis

Physiotherapy plays a vital role in managing PsA. A physiotherapist can help with:

  • Therapeutic exercise to maintain joint mobility and muscle strength
  • Heat/cold therapy for pain relief
  • Education on managing symptoms
  • Acupuncture and manual techniques
  • Hydrotherapy for gentle exercise
  • Fatigue management
  • Splinting advice for joint protection

The Role of Exercise

Exercise is crucial in managing PsA. It helps maintain muscle strength, joint health, and flexibility. Low-impact aerobic activities and progressive resistance training (PRT) are particularly beneficial. Your physiotherapist can tailor an exercise program to your specific needs.

Relaxation Techniques and Mind-Body Therapies

Stress management is essential in PsA. Techniques like guided imagery, muscle relaxation, and mind-body practices (Tai Chi, Pilates, Yoga) can help control symptoms and improve overall well-being.

Self-Management Strategies

  • Understanding your condition: Knowledge about PsA empowers you to manage it effectively.
  • Activity pacing: Balance activities to avoid overexertion.
  • Sleep health: Good sleep hygiene can alleviate symptoms.
  • Muscle care: Remedial massage can help reduce muscle stiffness and pain.
  • Heat and ice therapy: Apply heat for muscle relaxation and ice for reducing inflammation.
  • Aids and equipment: Use supportive devices to reduce joint strain.

When Surgery Is Needed?

In severe cases, surgical interventions like joint replacement or tendon surgery may be necessary. These procedures have high success rates in improving joint function and reducing pain.


Managing Psoriatic Arthritis effectively requires a combination of medical treatment, physiotherapy, and lifestyle adjustments. Understanding the condition, staying active, and using stress-reduction techniques can significantly improve your quality of life.

What to Do?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis or have been diagnosed with it, consult a physiotherapist. A tailored physiotherapy plan can help you manage symptoms, maintain joint health, and improve your overall well-being. Consult a healthcare professional to start your journey towards better managing Psoriatic Arthritis.

Related Articles

  1. Arthritis & Rheumatology Conditions – Discover the various arthritis and rheumatology conditions that physiotherapy can help manage, offering a broader context for Psoriatic Arthritis within the spectrum of related conditions.
  2. Heat Packs – Learn how applying heat can help relieve muscle stiffness and pain, a useful self-management strategy for Psoriatic Arthritis symptoms.
  3. Rheumatoid Arthritis – Although focusing on a different condition, this page provides valuable information on managing arthritis through physiotherapy, which can be relevant for Psoriatic Arthritis sufferers.
  4. Hand And Wrist Arthritis – Understand how arthritis affects the hand and wrist, including pain management and mobility improvement strategies that can apply to Psoriatic Arthritis.
  5. Acupuncture and Dry Needling – Explore how these techniques can provide pain relief, a beneficial adjunct to the management plan for Psoriatic Arthritis.
  6. Soft Tissue Massage – Learn about the benefits of remedial massage for reducing muscle stiffness and pain, supporting the muscle care strategy for Psoriatic Arthritis.
  7. Strength Exercises – Find out how strength training exercises can help maintain muscle strength and joint health, crucial for managing Psoriatic Arthritis.
  8. Wrist Brace or Support – This page offers advice on using supportive devices to reduce joint strain, relevant for Psoriatic Arthritis patients experiencing wrist issues.
  9. Kinesiology Tape – Discover how kinesiology taping can support joints and muscles, potentially beneficial for those with Psoriatic Arthritis.

John Miller Physiotherapist

Article by John Miller

Understanding Arthritis-Related Conditions

An Overview

Arthritis is a prevalent and diverse group of conditions affecting millions worldwide. It encompasses many disorders characterised by inflammation and joint pain, often leading to stiffness, swelling, and reduced mobility. Arthritis can significantly impact a person's quality of life, affecting their ability to perform daily tasks and engage in physical activities.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of arthritis-related conditions, focusing on both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. By understanding these conditions' causes, symptoms, and treatment options, individuals can make informed decisions about managing their joint health and seek appropriate medical guidance.

Arthritis Overview

In this article, we will explore the fundamental aspects of arthritis, including its definition, common symptoms, and risk factors. By establishing a clear understanding of what arthritis entails, readers can grasp the broader context before diving into specific subtypes.

Rheumatoid Conditions

This article delves into rheumatoid conditions, encompassing autoimmune disorders primarily affecting the joints. We will provide an overview of each condition, highlighting key characteristics, diagnostic approaches, and available treatment modalities. The rheumatoid conditions covered in this article include:

Osteoarthritis Conditions

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is the focus of this section. We will delve into its definition, underlying causes, risk factors, and prevalence. Additionally, we will explore specific osteoarthritis conditions.

Spinal Arthritic Conditions

Peripheral Joint Arthritis

By dividing the information into these sections, we aim to provide readers with a well-structured and informative resource. Each section will delve into the specificities of the respective conditions, including their impact on different parts of the body, available treatment options, and strategies for managing symptoms. Whether you seek general knowledge or are personally affected by arthritis-related conditions, this article is a valuable guide to navigating this complex field.

Please note that while this article provides a comprehensive overview, it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Individuals experiencing symptoms or seeking specific treatment recommendations should consult with qualified healthcare professionals for personalised care.

John Miller Physiotherapist

Article by John Miller

Understanding Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, commonly referred to as degenerative arthritis, stands as one of the most prevalent forms of arthritis.

Joints, over time, exhibit signs of wear and tear: the joint cartilage thins out, extra bony spurs develop in response to stress, and joint mobility diminishes. In advanced stages, osteoarthritis can become not only painful but also limiting in function and mood.

Exploring Osteoarthritis Management

Regrettably, a cure for osteoarthritis remains elusive. Nevertheless, there are more effective methods to manage the condition and slow down the degenerative process. By embracing these improvements, you can make your life smoother and more comfortable. A crucial component of this approach is physiotherapy, which plays a pivotal role in reducing osteoarthritis-related discomfort, enhancing comfort, and maintaining your activity levels.

Validating with Research

Numerous studies underscore the benefits of physiotherapy in alleviating pain and mitigating the disability linked to arthritis, especially in cases of knee osteoarthritis. (Source:

Empowering through Expert Guidance

To rediscover the joy of life, seek the insightful counsel of your physiotherapist today!

Navigating Osteoarthritis Diagnosis

The most straightforward test to confirm osteoarthritis remains an X-ray. A skilled practitioner can often make a reliable assessment of your condition upon examination.

Impact on Ageing Individuals

As we age, most of us inevitably encounter some degree of osteoarthritis. The wear and tear on our joints can result from various factors, including aging, injury, prolonged microtrauma, joint overuse, or excessive weight. This can lead to lasting changes in the bones, even in the absence of painful symptoms.

The extent of suffering varies, ranging from mild or occasional pain triggered by increased use or minor injury, to those who remain symptom-free and others who experience constant debilitating pain.

Weight-bearing joints like the hips, knees, ankles, feet, and spine are commonly affected. However, osteoarthritis can target any joint in the body, with hands and shoulders also being frequently affected. While severe cases might necessitate surgery, the majority respond positively to the combination of physician-prescribed physiotherapy and medication.

Recognising Osteoarthritis Signs

Osteoarthritis might be suspected if you encounter any of the following:

  • Intermittent joint pain or tenderness
  • Morning stiffness, particularly pronounced
  • Swelling or distortion of the joint
  • Detectable warmth and redness in the joint
  • Challenging joint movement

Holistic Osteoarthritis Care

For guidance on your osteoarthritis diagnosis, self-help strategies, or the most suitable treatment, reach out promptly to your physiotherapist or a trusted healthcare professional.

More Arthritis Info

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