On the left, a woman with plaques is anxiously biting her nails. On the right, she is confidently advocating for herself.

What Should You Do if You Have Fears of Psoriatic Disease?

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, 30% of people who have psoriasis will also have psoriatic arthritis. I've prayed I wouldn't be a part of the 30%, that somehow my disease would stop at just psoriasis. Unfortunately for the last 2 months my joints have been aching and feeling stiff, particularly the fingers in my right hand and my right knee-- all symptoms of psoriatic disease.

Sadness comes over me as I think about the future of my health and what it means if I have now have psoriatic arthritis. My worries include:

  • The struggles of choosing a new doctor which will now be a Rheumatologist
  • More Doctor expenses
  • More time off due to doctor appointments
  • Additional meds that I may or may not be able to afford
  • People getting tired of my story (Because it's ALWAYS something)
  • People thinking I suffer from Munchausen's Syndrome and thinking I'm faking my pain for attention (I had to google this term, lol)
  • No one wanting to date me because I'm "sickly"
  • My conditioning worsening and not being able to do the things I love to

I'm tearing up as I type this blog. I keep thinking that maybe if I ignore the pain it will somehow go away and will be one less thing I have to worry about. But I then I think  what would I tell a friend who came to me and revealed they had these symptoms? I wouldn't tell them to simply ignore it, so why am I not being a good friend to myself? I know ignoring the swelling in my joints is not the solution and in the end will be a huge injustice to my health.

If you think you may be showing signs of psoriatic disease here are the steps you should take:

Don't panic

I know you're probably thinking: how can she tell me not to panic after all she just said in the very beginning? At this moment I'm not speaking to you as a patient, I'm speaking to you as an advocate. I'm telling you what I would want to hear from a friend I was confiding in, and that is you are not alone. And there is PLENTY of help for you even if your disease progresses.

Start keeping track of your symptoms

Ask yourself the following questions as you track your disease:

When do my joints hurt the most? In the morning, during the day, or at night?
Which joints are in pain?
How long ago did I first notice the pain?
How does the weather or temperature affect my joints?

These are questions your doctor may ask to better assess your condition so be prepared to answer them. If you need more clarity of what you need to keep track of, contact a nurse at your doctor's office and ask what areas of your health you should record.

Make an appointment with your dermatologist

Go visit your dermatologist and inform she/her of your symptoms. The in-person visit will also allow them to assess your joints visually so they can give a proper diagnose. Sometimes Dermatologists are able to prescribe medicine that helps both psoriasis and arthritis, which could potentially save you money by not having to visit a rheumatologist. Your physician can also refer you to a rheumatologist that they know personally, which will take away some of the anxiety of having to look for one yourself.

Next visit: your new rheumatologist

Whether you find the doctor yourself or you are referred it's imperative you make an appointment. Before your visit be sure to have all of your health records sent over to your new doctor for them to review prior to the appointment. Also, create a list of your concerns to take with you and express them to your new doctor. Remember, finding a great doctor can be just as meticulous as finding a spouse. If you aren't happy with your care provider move on to a different one, you don't have to be stuck with unsatisfactory service.

Connect with others who have PsA

You need to understand you are not alone, there are other people who were once in your shoes. Find a community of patients who also have psoriatic disease. Talk to them about their initial feelings and the steps they took to be properly diagnosed. If you are unsure of where to start go to Facebook and twitter and type in "psoriatic arthritis patients" and hundreds of people with PsA will be right at your finger tips.

Remember, it is important to seek treatment if you are experiencing symptoms of PsA. Earlier diagnoses will help prevent the disease from progressing. If you chose to ignore these symptoms, your disease could have irreversible effects.

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