I Just Got Diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis: Now What?

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So you just got diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis and you don’t know what to do? It’s a good thing you came here. I talk to three top psoriasis bloggers who also have psoriatic arthritis. They share their words of wisdom about what to do when you get the initial diagnosis, how often you should see your rheumatologist, what they know now and what they wished they knew when they were first diagnosed. Here is the answer to your question: I got diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, now what?

Jamie Lynn Moy.
Jamie Lynn Moy

Jaime Lynn Moy of A Spot of Hope

HealthCentral: Who diagnosed you with psoriatic arthritis? A rheumatologist or dermatologist?

Jaime Lynn Moy: A rheumatologist.

HC: What's the first thing someone should do if they get the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis?

Moy: Don't panic! When my son got his diagnosis at age five, I freaked out and was sure he would end up in a wheelchair within a year. Yes, psoriatic arthritis is a serious disease and needs to be taken seriously, but it should not end your life as you know it. I won't sugar coat it. It is difficult and frustrating and you will probably need to make lifestyle changes, but you can live and thrive with this disease if you and your doctor find the right medications to manage the inflammation. Never give up hope.

HC: If a dermatologist diagnoses someone with psoriatic arthritis because they've been complaining about joint pain, should they also see a rheumatologist?

Moy: Yes. This happened to me. After seeing a rheumatologist for a few years but having decreased confidence in the staff, I was hoping my dermatologist could just oversee my joint care, especially since it was my dermatologist who was prescribing and monitoring my biologic medication. My dermatologist refused to oversee my joint care because, as he put it, "Dermatologists know skin. Rheumatologists know joints." A rheumatologist, not a dermatologist, gets extra training in psoriatic arthritis.

Patients should see the doctor that can help them the most and is the most qualified. National Psoriasis Foundation's Patient Navigation Center can help patients find rheumatologists in their area. Natalie, the patient navigator assigned to me at the time, was extremely helpful by giving me a list of rheumatologists who were accepting new patients and what was each office's wait time.

HC: Having psoriasis increases chances of developing psoriatic arthritis. Should you see a rheumatologist yearly to keep on top of any joint pain and to have a benchmark should any joint pain start?

Moy: Knowing the signs and symptoms and staying proactive in noticing any changes should be a top priority. If patients start to have joint pain, I would recommend seeing a rheumatologist as soon as possible. Mentioning to the rheumatologist office staff that you've already been diagnosed with psoriasis can sometimes speed up your appointment time to see the doctor.

HC: What do you know now about being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis that you wished you knew when you were first diagnosed?

Moy: There is a big community of psoriatic arthritis patients supporting each other. Reach out if you ever feel alone or scared. Just having others to talk to can make a big difference. NPF's One to One program is a great way for newly diagnosed patients to connect with other patients and patient volunteers. It can be intimidating talking to your doctor about your fears, but much easier to talk with another patient who has been through it.

Lori-Ann Holbrook.
Lori-Ann Holbrook

Lori Ann Holbrook of City Girl Flare

HealthCentral: Who diagnosed you with psoriatic arthritis? A rheumatologist or derm?

Lori Ann Holbrook: Ultimately, my rheumatologist, but he needed my dermatologist’s diagnosis of my psoriasis first.

HC: What's the first thing someone should do if they get the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis?

Holbrook: Don’t panic! Seek support from an NPF mentor and online groups like the NPF's Patient Navigation Center or One to One program.

HC: If a dermatologist diagnoses someone with psoriatic arthritis because they've been complaining about joint pain, should they also see a rheumatologist?

Holbrook: Absolutely! There are many other factors a rheumatologist needs to consider to rule out other systemic diseases. A rheumatologist has special training when it comes to joint pain. So it’s important to see a specialized doctor to get the proper care.

HC: Having psoriasis increases chances of developing psoriatic arthritis, should you see a rheumatologist yearly to keep on top on any joint pain and to have a benchmark should any joint pain start?

Holbrook: Yes! I have very little psoriasis, but still have an annual checkup with my dermatologist. It works both ways.

HC: What do you know now about being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis that you wished you knew when you were first diagnosed?

Holbrook: That remission is possible. Despair is not helpful. There is so much you can do for yourself. Try everything! Diet, exercise, holistic remedies, and acupuncture have helped others. Experiment with your doctor’s blessing and see what works for you.

Jim Snedden
Jim Snedden

Jim Snedden of A Wild and Flaky Guy

HealthCentral: Who diagnosed you with psoriatic arthritis? A rheumatologist or dermatologist?

Jim Snedden: Initially I did. I had to visit two rheumatologists before I got my confirmed diagnosis.

HC: What's the first thing someone should do if they get the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis?

Snedden: If you’re not already seeing a rheumatologist, see one. On your own, you can avoid inflammatory foods, as well as take inflammatories such as Turmeric/curcumin, or CBD.

HC: If a dermatologist diagnoses someone with psoriatic arthritis because they've been complaining about joint pain, should they also see a rheumatologist?

Snedden: Yes, absolutely. Because having joint pain doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have psoritatic arthritis. A rheumatologist has specialized training and can rule out other diseases associated with psoriasis.

HC: Having psoriasis increases chances of developing psoriatic arthritis. Should you see a rheumatologist yearly to keep on top of any joint pain and to have a benchmark should any joint pain start?

Snedden: Definitely. If you wake up stiff in the morning, jot down how long it takes before you can "move freely." Before my diagnosis, I would lie in bed for about 20-30 minutes before I could get up. I thought it was the dog pressing up against my back all night.

It wasn’t until I saw the psoriasis on my knuckles and saw how crooked my fingers were that I sought out a rheumatologist right away. She concluded it was osteoporosis without so much as a blood test or x-rays. I found another rheumatologist who then ordered the blood test and x-rays, which is when she confirmed it was psoriatic arthritis.

HC: What do you know now about being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis that you wished you knew when you were first diagnosed?

Snedden: I just wish I knew a little sooner, then there would be less damage. I am able to walk, which I am very grateful for. But the earlier psoriatic arthritis is caught, the better.

See more helpful articles:

11 Signs You Might Have Psoriatic Arthritis

Does Weather Affect Psoriatic Arthritis?

Make Cooking Easier When You Have Psoriatic Arthritis