In many ways, managing psoriatic arthritis is much like managing a basketball team. It requires rounding up a variety of players who are all knowledgeable about PsA, yet have a specific skill set that no one else on the team has.
Each player is responsible for their field of expertise. But they also need to know how to work as a team. If they do not pay close attention, they miss the ball. One foul may seem harmless. However, when it is your life and not a game, it is a big deal!
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The number of players on your psoriatic arthritis team may vary throughout your life. There are many comorbidities associated with PsA which makes it next to impossible to fully predict how many players you will need. With that said here are some key players you should consider having on your team.
- Primary care
- Pain specialist
What Each Player is Responsible For
Together, your primary care doctor and rheumatologist can work together to make sure they do not prescribe treatments that will interfere with each other. Your rheumatologist’s main focus is your autoimmune disease. With psoriatic arthritis putting you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke, your primary doctor should be on the lookout for signs that might require adding a cardiologist or neurologist to your team.
A pain specialist can help reduce the pain that your treatment does not provide in a variety of ways. They may treat your pain with NSAIDs, painkillers, nerve blocks, corticosteroid shots, physical therapy, or surgery. They may also incorporate complementary therapies, such as meditation, acupuncture, or biofeedback.
With most psoriatic arthritis patients also having psoriasis, seeing a dermatologist may be necessary to reduce and relieve discomfort from the rash. Just make sure that you find one that has experience treating psoriasis. A clue that they do is if their office offers phototherapy or excimer laser.
There are a variety of ways that psoriatic arthritis may affect your eyes. Patients with this type of arthritis are prone to uveitis, glaucoma, and cataracts. Yearly eye exams with an optometrist can help you catch and deal with these issues early on.
Managing Your Psoriatic Arthritis Team
It is easy to forget and there are times when you may feel like you are not, but you ARE the team manager. Your team works for you and is there to advise, detect, and help.
If your insurance provider or HMO prevents your team from doing their job, it may be time to find a new provider. Unhappy with your current team? Replace them! It won’t be easy and it will take time, but having a team that listens, respects, and has your best interest in mind is what will make living with psoriatic arthritis easier!
Is It Time For a New Team?
My team hasn’t always been a winning one. Some team members had no experience and should be playing a different sport. Others were MVPs but didn’t play well with others. After years of coaching a team that didn’t want to listen to my concerns, it is time to rebuild. I don’t need a team full of All-Stars, but instead, I am looking for doctors who are team players.
Like any good team manager, I have scouts to help me find the right players. Recommendations from nearby friends, family, and other patients I have met online are just one resource. Another is Healthgrades, where I can read reviews, learn more about each physician, find out what hospitals they are associated with, and more.
What does your psoriatic arthritis team look like?