Oh, how I hate these days! I’m waking up during the night because my hands and arms are getting numb; my hands, wrists, and feet are swollen and uncomfortably warm, and I know my psoriatic arthritis has returned.
It’s the feeling of helplessness that gets me every time.
I’ve been dealing with this for 15 years and only last year did I get diagnosed. Until then, my doctors never had an answer.
Managing Psoriatic Arthritis Without Medication
Will I ever get rid of this or do I have to live with it? I have refused several times before to take some serious medication, which basically suppresses my immune system to a degree where my body can hardly cope with a cold, so what’s the point?
Keep the arthritis at bay by simply swapping it with all sorts of other problems? No thanks.
A couple of years ago, I decided to go through a trial-and-error phase with myself as the guinea pig. All I had read about psoriatic arthritis was that you can’t get rid of it. So I wanted to see how I can manage it and get on with my life without exposing my body to potentially toxic medications.
For me, the following is working:
1. Cut Out Wheat And Dairy
I am not allergic or probably not even sensitive to milk products and wheat. I feel perfectly fine when I eat them (unfortunately, because that makes it quite difficult to stick to it!) but if I overdo it or have too much within a short period of time, my arthritis gets worse.
I cut out bread completely as even the rye bread contains wheat, and I resist the nice croissants.
I have my beloved coffee with soya milk (which is perfectly fine once you get used to it — I don’t even like cow milk anymore), my porridge is made with almond milk, and my local farm shop regularly runs out of goat cheese because I buy it all!
2. Reduce Meat
I am not a big meat eater anyway, but during flare-ups I tend to go mainly vegetarian. I eat lots of pulses, try to stick to seasonal veggies, and stay away from salt. But I add in lots of Indian spices (turmeric is great!) to make it more interesting.
3. Reduce Sugar
I wish I could write “cut out sugar,” but my sweet tooth wouldn’t let me!
So I have a bit of rice malt syrup in my homemade granola bars, add xylitol to my sugar-free soya milk, and try to stay away from all added sugars. My flare-ups are a good motivator!
4. Take Spirulina Tablets
My secret weapon! It gives me loads of energy, essential nutrients and amino acids, and lots of plant protein and it helps reduce the swelling.
Make sure you buy organic spirulina. It shouldn’t be taken with coffee, so I have my 10–20 tablets early in the morning with some water and my coffee an hour later.
Since it is completely natural I can take more tablets around lunchtime if needed. Don’t take it in the evening as it may disturb your sleep.
5. Do Some Exercise
Yes I know it sounds odd. Your hands and feet hurt, and all you want is to stay in bed.
But I realized going to the gym and doing whatever I can do does help — mainly stretching and body weight exercises and a bit of cardio, depending how my feet are.
If it’s too bad I just go for a walk. It’s more about feeling connected to your body and feeling good in it than breaking a sweat.
Because of my busy schedule, I mainly do intermittent fasting (nowadays called 5:2), with the difference that I do not eat anything to give my body time to rest.
I check my diary on Sunday night and choose the two busiest non-consecutive days, which keep me busy but not stressed and away from the fridge.
I drink loads of herbal tea and water at room temperature (I don’t like cold drinks when I’m fasting). When I have the time, I do it properly and fast for a week.
7. Meditate And Practice Yoga
When it comes to the psychological side, nothing beats meditation and yoga. I tend to do more yoga when I’m feeling well and meditate more during flare-ups.
My arthritis seems to get worse when I am stressed or under pressure, so meditation helps me ground myself.
Please note: These are my personal experiences and coping mechanisms. They work for me but they might not work for you. Don’t follow them without consulting your doctor.