Maintain a healthy weight with psoriatic arthritis

Extra body weight affects your psoriatic arthritis symptoms and how well your treatments work. Losing weight can help you live better with this condition.

Extra body weight can increase joint pain in all types of arthritis. Too many extra pounds puts more strain on already-sore joints and your spine, zapping your energy and mobility. If you have psoriatic arthritis, extra weight can increase joint inflammation and may affect how well your treatment works. Maintaining a healthy weight can help you better manage psoriatic arthritis symptoms and live a healthier life.

Weight gain can worsen psoriatic arthritis symptoms

Chemical reactions inside fat cells cause your body to make the same inflammation-causing proteins (cytokines) that trigger psoriatic arthritis symptoms. This means more inflammation in your body, making symptoms worse. In psoriatic arthritis, being overweight can cause:

  • More severe skin problems
  • Worse pain
  • Psoriatic arthritis in more joints

Excess weight can make your treatment less effective

Being overweight or obese also affects how well common psoriatic arthritis treatments work. For example, TNF-alpha inhibitors help reduce symptoms of psoriatic arthritis by blocking the action of inflammation-causing proteins. But extra fat tissue can increase levels of these proteins (cytokines), causing the TNFs to become less effective.

Studies of psoriatic arthritis medications and body weight have found these links:

  • TNFs are less effective in those with extra body weight.
  • The higher a person's body mass index (BMI), the less likely TNF drugs may work.
  • Added pounds may also make other medications used for psoriatic arthritis, called disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) less effective.

Losing weight can significantly improve how well your treatment works.

Work with your doctor to lose excess weight

There is a strong link between psoriatic arthritis and obesity. If you need to lose weight, talk to your doctor. He or she can review your medications and help recommend a program that may be best for you.

A successful weight loss approach typically includes changing your diet, getting more exercise and making a long-term commitment to these healthy changes.

Choose a balanced, healthy approach to food

The best way to increase nutrients while limiting calories is to eat more plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

It's also important to pick a healthy eating plan you can live with:

  • Avoid overly narrow diets. Look for a plan that doesn't forbid certain foods or food groups, but instead includes a variety of foods from all the major food groups.
  • Aim for balance. A weight-loss plan should include proper amounts of nutrients and calories for your individual situation. Diets that direct you to eat large quantities of certain foods that drastically cut calories or eliminate entire food groups may result in nutritional problems.
  • Like what you eat. Include foods in your diet that you like and would enjoy eating for the rest of your life — not just for several weeks or months.

Increase physical activity

Every weight-loss and maintenance program should include physical activity. Your doctor or a physical therapist can work with you to find the exercise plan that gives you the most benefit with the least aggravation of your joint pain.

Exercises like yoga, tai chi or swimming tend to be gentle on the joints and are considered good exercise for people with arthritis.

Commit to maintaining a healthy weight

It's tempting to buy into methods that promise rapid and dramatic weight loss. But a slow and steady approach is easier to maintain and usually keeps the weight off long term. If you're overweight, a safe goal is to lose about 1/2 to 3 pounds (0.23 to 1 kilogram) per week. To lose this much, you generally need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day. A lower-calorie diet and regular physical activity can help you meet this goal.

Remember, successful weight loss requires a long-term commitment to healthy eating and exercise. Your health will benefit in many important ways, including fewer psoriatic arthritis symptoms and greater quality of life.

Feb. 25, 2022 See more In-depth