9 Myths About Psoriatic Arthritis

by Casey Nilsson Patient Advocate

We take a look at nine myths associated with psoriatic arthritis and debunk them once and for all.

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Myth: There is a Cure

Fact: Unfortunately, there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, a type of chronic inflammatory arthritis. But remission is possible; up to 24 percent of patients in one Rheumatology study achieved remission with the help of anti-TNF, or biologic, drugs. They also remained in remission for a long period after halting therapy.

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Myth: You Automatically Have Psoriasis

Fact: While up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis, not everyone who has psoriatic arthritis will have visible psoriasis lesions on their skin, which can make psoriatic arthritis very difficult to diagnose.

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Myth: Rheumatoid, Psoriatic and Osteoarthritis are All the Same

Fact: Osteoarthritis is a “wear-and-tear” degenerative joint disease; joint pain increases throughout the day. RA and psoriatic arthritis are both autoimmune diseases, where the immune system attacks the joints; joint pain is often worse in the mornings. Psoriatic arthritis and RA can be difficult to distinguish. Psoriatic arthritis is rarely symmetrical, while RA is. Rheumatologists also test for a rheumatoid factor, which can sometimes help achieve the right diagnosis.

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Myth: Biologics Will Give You Cancer

Fact: The research on psoriatic arthritis and biologics is promising, but promising: A 2011 review of randomized controlled trials didn’t find an increased malignancy risk in patients who use biologic medications to control their psoriatic arthritis. People with psoriatic disease, in general, have a higher rate of malignancy, which many researchers attribute to chronic inflammation.

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Myth: Long-term Use of NSAIDs is Safe

Fact: Just because Motrin reduces inflammation doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, especially in high doses, increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, ulcers and kidney problems.

Myth: You Only Need to See a Dermatologist

Fact: If you’re experiencing joint pain, you also need to see a rheumatologist who is experienced in treating psoriatic arthritis. It’s important to build a “psoriatic arthritis dream team” as soon as possible, since joint damage can happen early. Once you feel pain, the damage has already begun.

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Myth: You'll Need to Have Surgery

Fact: Less than 10 percent of patients with psoriatic arthritis require joint-replacement surgery, according to a 2012 review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Myth: You Have to Stop Exercising

Fact: Certain low-impact exercises — think swimming and bike-riding — improve joint flexibility and increase quality of life for patients living with psoriatic arthritis. Exercise also helps you shed pounds, which reduces pressure on the joints. It also gets your heart pumping to reduce cardiovascular risk associated with psoriatic disease.

Myth: Only Medication Will Make It Better

Fact: Exercise, diet, and lifestyle choices all have an effect on psoriatic arthritis. Talk to your doctor about additional ways you can improve your disease.

Casey Nilsson
Meet Our Writer
Casey Nilsson

Casey Nilsson, an award-winning journalist and magazine editor based in Rhode Island, writes about autoimmune disease for HealthCentral. Casey is a 2018 Association of Health Care Journalists fellow, and her reporting on unfair labor conditions for people with disabilities was a finalist for the City and Regional Magazine Association Awards. Diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2016, Casey enjoys digging into rheumatologic news, research and trends.