Unlocking Psoriatic Arthritis: 10 Symptoms to Trackby Julie Cerrone Croner Patient Advocate
While many of us are living with psoriatic arthritis, our bodies are unique and react to triggers very differently. What sets off a flare in me might be totally different from what sets one off in you. Because of this, identifying your own specific triggers can help you create a personalized approach to managing our condition. Start tracking these 10 symptoms to help uncover your own personal prevention prescription.
It’s important to break your pain down to a granular level. Not only assessing the severity on a 1-10 pain scale, but also where you’re having the pain and what type of pain it is. Is it a burning pain or more of a stabbing pain? Is it in your knee or in your back? It’s important to think about how you experience pain and break it down as best you can.
With autoimmune conditions like psoriatic arthritis, fatigue is usually a big factor. It’s important to stay consistent in tracking how much your fatigue affects you. Consider making your own fatigue scale and asses on a 1-10 scale. Perhaps 1 means your energy is high and it doesn’t affect any of your activities, while a 10 means you can’t keep your eyes open and are sleeping the majority of the day.
With psoriatic arthritis, many patients experience psoriasis. It’s important to keep track of your flare ups and how severe they are. What type of skin manifestation are you experiencing? Where specifically on your body is it located? Is it itchy, irritating, oozing, dry? Keeping track of these details can help a doctor figure out the best course of action for you.
Food can trigger many different symptoms within our bodies. Certain foods can be the driver behind your knee pain, your lack of energy, or your skin flare ups. It’s important to track the types of food that you’re eating, and when. Don’t just think about the overall food, but also think about the specific ingredients within a dish. (Want to explore food triggers further? Learn more about how an elimination diet can help psoriatic disease.)
Tracking when you fall asleep, how well you sleep, and when you wake up can help uncover patterns of your body. Ever-changing technology makes it easier to track these data points. If you have smartphone, you can easily track your sleep patterns by utilizing apps. Assessing this data can help your doctor know how well you’re sleeping and how much it may be impacting the rest of your health.
We all have the best intentions of taking our medication and supplements at the same time. But, let’s be honest, sometimes we forget and take it late or miss a dose. It’s important to track when you take your medications, even if you do make a mistake. This can help you and your doctor know if perhaps this might be contributing to your symptoms.
Keeping track of your activity level can help you realize your limits. You can assess whether you may be overdoing it or perhaps you need to be more active. A lot of times with inflammatory conditions we don’t want to move, but movement can help keep our joints fluid and moving. Activity doesn’t have to be as big as running, going to the gym, or other exercises. Simply keeping track of your steps with a smart device or phone is a great way to start.
It’s often one of the last things we think of, but our emotional state can truly impact how we feel. Our stress levels; whether we’re happy, calm, angry, or sad; and any number of other emotions can affect our pain levels, fatigue levels, and many other symptoms. By keeping track of our emotional states, we can potentially find correlations.
Meditation and mindfulness exercises can help bring peace, calm, and clarity to your body. Tuning into your body allows you to relax and allows your body to move out of fight or flight mode. It’s important to track your mindful minutes to track how much relaxation you’re bringing to your body. You may find that how often you "tune in" has an impact on your symptoms.
Anything else worth noting
Each of our bodies experiences symptoms differently. With psoriatic arthritis, some have bad hand pain, others have foot, knee or back pain, and others' main complaints are skin manifestations. It’s important to track all of the symptoms that affect you. When do they pop up? How long do they stay around for?
Look at your routines
There are so many other things that you can track, as well. Did you leave your house? Did you have a doctor’s appointment? Were you in a certain environment? These are all things that would be personal to your own situation. Perhaps you want to track when you work or how long you spend in the car. Different things will be applicable to different people. Think about your regular routines and track what make sense to you.