9 Ways to Prepare for a Flare-Up With Psoriatic Arthritis

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

With psoriatic arthritis, symptoms can wax and wane. When the symptoms get suddenly worse, that is called a flare-up. Since my last flare-up, I am motivated to feel better as quickly as possible the next time it happens. Hopefully my ideas to get back on track quickly can help you.

Female doctor talking to her patient.

Talk to Your Doctor Ahead of a Flare-up

Once a flare-up occurs, communication with your doctor may not be easy or clear due to pain and emotional distress. Talking to him or her in advance of a flare-up about your concerns can allow you to be more thoughtful and deliberate in your conversation. Talk about what treatments would be available if things got suddenly worse. Ask if you will be able to see him or her, or someone else in the office, quickly if you do experience a flare-up.

close up of person experiencing wrist pain

Know Your Risks of a Psoriatic Arthritis Flare-up

A sudden increase in your symptoms can happen at any time, even if you are taking extremely good care of yourself. According to the American College of Rheumatology, in some people psoriatic arthritis is mild with just occasional flare-ups. In other people, flare-ups are continuous and cause joint damage if left untreated. Talking to your doctor about the history of your disease may lead you to a greater understanding of your risks of flare-ups.

Pharmacist holding prescription medications.

Have Medications or Prescriptions Available

During my last flare-up, I was fortunate to get in immediately to see my rheumatologist. I already had the recommended medication at home so that saved a trip to the pharmacy when I did not feel well. If your doctor knows in advance the recommended medication for a flare-up, this may also allow you to find out in advance if it will be covered by your insurance or if a generic brand is available.

Try to Stay as Calm as Possible

There is absolutely nothing calming about the thought of suddenly not being able to walk or take care of your daily responsibilities. However, because there is a link between stress and psoriatic arthritis, it is important to stay as relaxed as possible and not worry too much about a flare-up. Remember that while flare-ups can be terrible, they are also temporary. Instead of fearing the discomfort, try to focus on how good you are feeling now.

Two young women in pajamas drinking coffee on the couch.

Talk to Your Support System

Psoriatic arthritis is a complex, immune-mediated disease that affects different people in different ways. The complexity of the disease can make it difficult for your friends and family to know when help is needed. Talking to your support system about your disease and how it may impact you if you experience a flare-up can help them prepare to step in if you are not feeling your best.

Woman Applying Ice Gel Pack On Her Ankle

Remember You Have Treatments Beyond Medication

It can be helpful to remind yourself that if a flare occurs, you have tools beyond medication that can help you feel better. This is especially important if you need to wait a few days for a doctor’s appointment after a flare-up begins. Having home-treatment items in place like hot and cold packs, Epsom salts and healthy foods can help you feel prepared.

two women having business meeting

Talk to Your Boss or Human Resources About Accommodations

If you work outside of your home, you may want to have a plan to deal with your work obligations if you suddenly need to take time off. Making sure someone knows the critical aspects of your job can help relieve your worry about work. You may also want to find out about your company’s teleworking policy and other kinds of accommodations available in the case of an illness.

Write Down Your Flare-up Plan

If you have a flare-up, you may find yourself completely overwhelmed with the sudden onset or the discomfort you are feeling. Having a treatment plan written down ahead of time can save you the energy of remembering what the plan was. Collecting in one place important phone numbers of friends who have offered to help or your local pharmacy can save time if you are not feeling well.

Woman looking up believing in herself.

Believe in Yourself

During my last psoriatic flare-up, fear was probably my most painful symptom. Ang yet, fear is also probably one of the least talked-about symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Before your next flare-up, remind yourself that you are capable of handling whatever comes your way. Know that you are smart and that, when a flare-up happens, you will be completely capable of using your resources to return to feeling your best once again.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Tracyshealthyliving.com. Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.