It’s estimated that up to 30% of people diagnosed with psoriasis will eventually develop another condition known as psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis, which is characterized by joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, can affect any joint in any part of the body. And like psoriasis itself, psoriatic arthritis may go through periods of flare-ups and remission.
Currently, there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t treatments that can help. However, due to the nature of the disease and the side effects of some treatments, it’s important to keep yourself safe from infectious diseases like COVID-19. Fortunately, the expanding use of telehealth, also known as telemedicine, gives you more opportunity than ever to stay connected with your doctor while also limiting your exposure to potentially harmful germs.
Like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis is a chronic, or long-term, condition which may get worse over time. Symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, tenderness, swelling, stiffness, or reduced range of motion may be mild, or they may be severe enough to prevent you from completing normal daily activities. These symptoms result from your body’s immune system inappropriately attacking normal, healthy cells. This causes inflammation inside your joints.
Psoriatic arthritis care focuses on reducing inflammation and preserving any affected joint’s ability to move normally. Typically, this involves a combination of medications and, in some cases, steroid injections or joint replacement surgery. But some psoriatic arthritis medications, such as certain steroid drugs and biologic agents, work to suppress the immune system. They can significantly improve psoriatic arthritis symptoms, but they also may prevent your immune system from responding well to infectious diseases like COVID-19. This means you may be at higher risk of a more severe case, so it’s important to take measures to stay as healthy as possible. But that doesn’t mean you should stop taking the treatments your doctor prescribes.
Rheumatologists and other doctors are increasingly offering telehealth appointments to help keep patients safe while they continue treatment. Telehealth offers several benefits compared to office visits, such as:
Telehealth appointments are typically conducted from the privacy and comfort of your own home. Your doctor may call you on the telephone or may use videoconferencing technology with your computer or smartphone.
If your doctor offers telehealth, you may use this service to:
Though living with psoriatic arthritis can be challenging, telehealth is a great way to stay connected with your doctor while you develop and follow your treatment plan. In the COVID-19 era, telehealth for psoriatic arthritis is one of the best ways to protect yourself and keep yourself healthy.
Of course, there may be occasions when you need to see your doctor in person. In these cases, it’s still important to get the care you require. Doctor’s offices and hospitals are using strict safety guidelines during this time, and many healthcare workers are vaccinated already. Wear your mask–or even two, per the latest recommendations–and pack some hand sanitizer to use frequently. Your health is your doctor’s priority, so their clinic will be doing all it can to ensure the safety of patients like you.