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How Can Physical Therapy Help My Psoriatic Arthritis? A Q&A with Dr. Ogdie

By Beth W. Orenstein
Reviewed by Ethan T. Craig, M.D.
December 21, 2022

This article is part of a Q&A series in which a healthcare professional in our community answers your frequently asked questions.

We asked: “I’m experiencing psoriatic arthritis pain. How can working with a physical therapist help?”

Alexis Ogdie, M.D.: Psoriatic arthritis can bring on symptoms such as chronic joint pain and swelling, limited range of motion, and fatigue, which can make the idea of moving unpleasant.

But if you don’t move, you could actually be worsening your joint pain and discomfort. When they’re not used regularly, the muscles around your joints weaken. As a result, they don’t support the joints as well, which causes more discomfort.

A physical therapist (PT) can show you exercises that help keep your joints functioning properly and reduce pain. A PT will show you how to exercise safely and use correct form to avoid further injury.

It’s best if you can work directly with a PT who is familiar with psoriatic arthritis (or at least arthritis in general) and can adapt their recommendations to your strengths and weaknesses.

What Can I Expect During PT?

Most physical therapy programs last six to eight weeks, but some people benefit from going a little longer than that. Usually, you will work with your PT two to three times a week and practice the exercises they show you at home in between sessions.

Is It Expensive?

Unfortunately, physical therapy can have a high copay, and the cost of sessions can really add up. If you’re having trouble affording visits, ask your PT to help you devise a program of strength and conditioning exercises that you can do at home on your own. Be sure to follow instructions and ask questions about anything you’re unsure of. If something feels painful, stop and let your PT know so they can provide you with a modification or alternative.

Why Not Just Exercise on My Own?

The main advantage to working with a PT over time: Your PT can adjust your exercises as you make progress to make sure you continue to get the most out of it. Your PT also can show you how to make adjustments to conserve energy and use assistive devices to help you perform daily tasks if needed.

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