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Psoriatic arthritis

Produced by Rebecca Canvin, Bupa Health Information Team, January 2012.

This section contains answers to common questions about this topic. Questions have been suggested by health professionals, website feedback and requests via email.

Does psoriatic arthritis affect your nails?

Answer

Yes, if you have psoriatic arthritis then your nails are likely to be affected. Your fingernails are more likely to be affected than your toenails.

Explanation

Psoriasis can affect your nails, causing changes in nail colour and small dents in your nails called pitting. Sometimes your nail can also become detached from the nail bed. If you have psoriatic arthritis, you’re likely to have some changes to your nails. Eight out of 10 people with psoriatic arthritis develop nail problems.

Treatment for nail psoriasis may involve using a cream or ointment called a vitamin D analogue. This slows down the overproduction of nail cells and allows your nails to start growing normally. However, your nails take a long time to grow and you may need to continue your treatment for up to a year for fingernails and up to two years for toenails.

If your toenails are affected you may find it helpful to see a podiatrist - a health professional who specialises in conditions that affect the feet. He or she can help to reduce the pressure on your nails from your shoes, and help to ease any pain or discomfort.

What kind of exercise is best for psoriatic arthritis?

Answer

It's important to exercise regularly if you have psoriatic arthritis. Exercise can help to ease stiffness and keeps your joints and muscles strong and flexible. You should follow a programme which includes exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your range of movement, as well as aerobic exercise to improve your overall fitness.

Explanation

If you have psoriatic arthritis, exercise is very important. Regular exercise won’t make your arthritis worse or damage your joints any further. Without regular exercise your muscles will lose their strength and your joints will become stiffer, less flexible and more painful.

You can perform exercise at different intensities. Moderate means your breathing is faster, your heart rate is increased and you feel warmer. At this level of activity, your heart and lungs are being stimulated and this goes towards making you fitter. Vigorous intensity activity means that your breathing will be much stronger and your heart rate will increase rapidly. You will find it difficult to hold a conversation.

You should aim to do some physical activity every day. The recommended healthy level of physical activity is 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate exercise over a week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. You can do this by carrying out 30 minutes on at least five days each week. Alternatively, you can do 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity.

It’s important that you include at least two weekly activities to build up muscle strength, such as exercising with weights. Try to spend as little time as possible being inactive.

Your doctor or physiotherapist can help you to create an individual exercise programme that works for you and which takes your conditions into account.

When you first start to exercise you may feel some discomfort in your muscles. This is normal. However, if an exercise starts to hurt, or if you have pain in your joints, stop the exercise straight away. Check with your doctor or physiotherapist before you start exercise again.

Will my psoriatic arthritis keep getting worse?

Answer

If you have a mild form of psoriatic arthritis, it’s likely to remain relatively stable over time. With more severe forms, treatment can help to prevent it from getting worse. Starting treatment early can help to prevent it from getting worse.

Explanation

One in three people have a mild form of psoriatic arthritis, which remains stable over time. However, some people with the condition will have a more severe form that needs long-term treatment. The sooner you have a diagnosis confirmed and start treatment, the better. Treatment can prevent the condition from getting any worse, as well as keeping your symptoms under control. Without treatment, psoriatic arthritis may get worse.

Your day to day life may be affected in some way by psoriatic arthritis. However, it is less likely than other types of arthritis to cause serious disability.

 

For our main content on this topic, see Information.

For sources and links to further information, see Resources.

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  • This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended only for general information and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional. For more details on how we produce our content and its sources, visit the about our health information page.

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  • Publication date: January 2012

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