Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory joint condition that is associated with the chronic skin condition psoriasis. For Black people, misperceptions and insufficient data on how skin diseases impact them have become a widespread issue.
“The estimated prevalence of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is somewhat less in patients of color, so for example 3.6 percent of Euro Americans versus 1.9 percent of African Americans,” says Ashira Blazer, MD, a rheumatologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City and co-chair of the American College of Rheumatology’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. “It’s possible this is a true difference, but it’s also possible that it’s underdiagnosed in African Americans.”
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis
The Arthritis Foundation says common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include:
- Joints that are swollen and painful.
- Pain and soreness where tendons attach to bone, such as at the heel.
- Pitting or separation of nails from the nail bed.
- Back pain.
- Conjunctivitis, characterized by redness and pain in tissues surrounding the eyes.
- Feeling fatigued, reduced range of motion in the joints and feeling stiff in the morning.
“Patients of color tend to report higher pain scores for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis,” Dr. Blazer adds. “The caveat is that those patients tend to have less access to care and tend to be diagnosed later.”
How to relieve morning stiffness
For many people with psoriatic arthritis, their joints may become painful, stiff and inflamed. However, stiffness is often worse in the morning due to an extended period of immobility.
Luckily, there are certain modifications you can make to your morning routine to help decrease morning stiffness and associated joint pain.
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Stretching before you get up in the morning will help decrease morning stiffness and improve your movement and function throughout the day.
Another option is to use one hand to grab each finger of your opposite hand and stretch it back and forth through full flexion and extension of all the finger joints.
Applying heat helps improve blood flow to the body, which helps promote joint mobility and decrease joint stiffness.
If you are applying heat on larger areas of the body like the spine, try a heating pad. You can use heating pads that need to be plugged into the wall or ones that can be put in the microwave to heat up. However, be sure to protect yourself from