Wellness With PsA: 8 Reasons to Look Beyond the Scale

Health Writer
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Your class reunion, the dawn of a new year, or an upcoming vacation might all spur you to want to drop a few pounds, and quickly. But when you are living with psoriatic arthritis, your weight does not always show the complete picture of your health. Your scale provides a number that can be an important data point to keep obesity in check, but it’s important to think beyond the scale when it comes to your overall wellness.


Long-term outcomes matter more

Psoriatic arthritis can be a progressive and debilitating disease. While your weight today matters, there are also other indicators of long-term health and function. Measurements such as minimal disease activity or remission can be a better predictor of overall health. At present, fewer than one third of those of living with psoriatic arthritis meet the criteria for minimal disease activity.


Comorbidities often go unnoticed

Psoriatic arthritis is related to other health conditions that can carry a significant burden if they are left untreated. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, those of us who live with psoriatic arthritis have an increased risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Keeping your weight in check can be beneficial to both of these conditions, but getting screened for these diseases also is necessary.


Pain can be the beginning of joint damage

Being as pain free as possible is also an important measure of your health if you are living with psoriatic arthritis. If something is hurting, that may indicate the beginning of joint damage. If your weight is good but you have joint pain, even waiting as long as six months to get help can lead to significant joint and bone damage. It is vital that if something is hurting, you let your doctor know.


The scale is not just weighing fat

Another reason you need to look beyond the scale is that when you step on the scale, you are weighing all of you, including water in your cells and the mass of your muscles. If you have psoriatic arthritis, it is important that your skin stay hydrated, which means your cells are filled with water. If it also extremely important that you are exercising, which can often make the numbers of the scale go up since muscle is more dense than fat.


Your bloodwork numbers are also important

The numbers associated with your bloodwork are also important measures of your overall health with psoriatic arthritis. Your rheumatologist will order bloodwork every few months or every year to determine the presence of inflammation. Your bloodwork can also help your doctor determine how well your course of treatment is working.


Your mental health matters

If you are living with psoriatic arthritis, your risk of depression and anxiety are increased by more than 30 percent according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. If you excessively focus on the numbers on the scale, this could lead to anxiety. If you avoid outings with friends or family due to too much focus on your weight, this could lead to isolation and depression.


You want your bones to get bigger, not smaller

With all the constant talk about dieting, it is easy to assume smaller is better. However, if you have psoriatic arthritis, you want your bones to be as dense and heavy as possible. In at least one study, 4.5 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis had osteoporosis compared to roughly 80 percent of the healthy control group. Weight bearing exercises can help strengthen your skeleton.


Measuring your professional health is also important

Your weight may be spot on, but if your nails are a mess and you work at a cosmetic counter, or your knee hurts and you are a fitness instructor, you have not achieved optimum health. While there may not be numbers that you can easily use to measure this aspect of your health, it is important that your disease is not constantly interfering with your professional productivity.


The bottom line

Many of us been taught that the number on the scale should reflect our overall health and happiness. But we owe it to ourselves to recognize the complexity of psoriatic disease, and to consider these other measurements in equal regard when assessing our health and well-being.