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, putting more strain on already-taxed joints and spine, and decreasing energy and mobility. If you have psoriatic arthritis, extra weight can also increase joint inflammation and affect how well you respond to common treatments. Understanding how weight affects your psoriatic arthritis symptoms and treatments can help motivate you to take steps to lose extra weight.

Excess weight can worsen psoriatic arthritis symptoms

Chemical reactions inside fat cells trigger the production of the same inflammation-causing proteins (cytokines) that cause your psoriatic arthritis symptoms. This adds to the inflammation already occurring in your body, making symptoms worse. In psoriatic arthritis, extra body weight is linked to:

  • More severe skin problems
  • Worse pain
  • A greater number of affected joints

Excess weight can affect treatment effectiveness

Being overweight or obese also affects your response to common psoriatic arthritis treatments, including tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors. TNF-alpha inhibitors help reduce symptoms by blocking the action of cytokines. However, extra fat tissue can increase your cytokines to a level that's too high for TNFs to be effective.

Studies of psoriatic arthritis medications and body weight suggest:

  • TNFs are less effective in those with extra body weight.
  • The higher a person's estimated body fat level — or body mass index (BMI) — the less likely TNF drugs may be effective.
  • Traditionally used disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs may also be less effective in those with extra body weight.

Losing weight can significantly improve effectiveness of these medications.

Work with your doctor to lose excess weight

Before starting a weight-loss program, talk to your doctor. He or she can review your medications and provide guidance on a program that may be best for you.

A successful approach typically includes modifying your diet, increasing physical activity 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 that 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.

For example, your doctor may suggest gentle exercises such as yoga, tai chi or swimming. As with your healthy eating plan, choose activities you will enjoy doing.

Make a commitment to maintaining a healthy weight

It's tempting to buy into promises of rapid and dramatic weight loss, but a slow and steady approach is easier to maintain and usually beats fast weight loss for the long term. It's best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. Generally, to lose at this rate, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower-calorie diet and regular physical activity.

Successful weight loss requires a long-term commitment to making healthy changes in your eating and exercise choices.It's worth it! Your health will benefit in many important ways, including fewer psoriatic arthritis symptoms and greater quality of life.

Jan. 06, 2017 See more In-depth