The Role of Physiotherapy in Psoriatic Arthritis

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Your GP may have a physiotherapist in their practice. This physiotherapist will be a general musculoskeletal physiotherapist with skills in treating all types of joint and muscle problems. They may only have limited knowledge of PsA but will be able to give you advice and appropriate exercises for any symptoms you may have at the time.

Once you have been sent to a rheumatologist you may well see a physiotherapist who has a particular interest in rheumatology. The role of the physiotherapist in the rheumatology team will vary from department to department. The following are the most common roles:

To help in the rheumatology clinic. Measuring your joint range and recording changes in your function. This can help the consultant decide if the medication you are on is working to control the PsA.

To work with the rest of the team to answer your concerns and explain what is happening with your condition.

Through exercise, and some hands-on treatment the physiotherapist aims to help maintain the range and strength in your joints.

Some departments can offer hydrotherapy - this is an excellent way to exercise PsA joints, especially the back, hips and knees.

Poor posture puts strain on the joints and leads to prolonged pain and eventually damage. The physiotherapist can help teach you better posture. They can also advise you on the best way to maintain it when working, driving, etc.

If your PsA is affecting your legs it can become an effort to get around, struggling to walk can put strain on your other joints, particularly the back - physiotherapists can help by assessing you for the most appropriate walking aid.

The physiotherapist will try to find ways of controlling the pain.
Some departments can loan out TENs machines for pain relief.
Some offer alternative therapies such as acupuncture and reflexology.
Some will supply wrist and hand splints, collars and other types of support.
They will also give you advice on the best ways to help yourself.

Catherine Buckley