Being overweight can make a person more likely to develop psoriatic arthritis or make its symptoms worse. Taking medications and losing weight can improve the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a form of inflammatory arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop this condition. People without psoriasis can also get it, though this is less common.

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PsA tends to cause pain and stiffness in the joints. Without treatment, this can permanently damage the joints.

Being overweight or obese places extra pressure on a person’s joints, meaning it can contribute to the symptoms of PsA.

It also contributes to inflammation and stops some PsA medications from working as well as they could.

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In this article, we look at the links between PsA and weight, including ways to safely lose weight with PsA.

What is the connection between PsA and weight gain?

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Stiffness and pain can make exercise difficult for a person with PsA.

The Arthritis Foundation also note that people who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing psoriasis and PsA.

When someone has PsA, painful joints can make it difficult to exercise. This can lead to weight gain, which in turn puts extra pressure on the joints, making symptoms worse.

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Studies have shown that people living with PsA who are overweight have more severe symptoms and find it more difficult to control their condition.

A paper published in 2013 reports that people with both obesity and PsA were less likely than people with a lower body mass index (BMI) to reach minimal disease activity. The researchers defined this by measuring factors including pain, tender or swollen joints, and skin involvement.

Fat tissue places additional pressure on joints and produces proteins that cause inflammation. This can add to the inflammation already caused by PsA.

Studies have shown that if those who are overweight and have arthritis lose 10 percent of their body weight, they could experience 50 percent less pain.

Losing weight will not only help ease pain, but it will also increase a person’s mobility, improve their response to medication, and improve their overall health.

Effects of weight gain on PsA treatment

Being overweight or obese can prevent PsA medications, such as biologics and disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), from working effectively.

This is partly because doctors often have difficulty finding the right doses of medication to alleviate the extra problems that being overweight can cause people with PsA. These problems include more significant pain, more severe skin problems, and a higher number of tender joints.

Losing weight safely with PsA

woman sitting at table eating breakfast
Eating meals slowly may help a person lose weight.

The best way to lose weight is to eat a healthful diet and exercise regularly. The American College of Rheumatology state that people with arthritis who exercise regularly may experience less pain, have higher energy levels, and get better quality sleep.

Doctors recommend low impact exercise for people with arthritis. This refers to any activity that puts low-level stress on the joints, such as swimming or cycling.

Doctors often advise people to start an exercise regime slowly then build it up gradually. If a joint is hot or swollen after an exercise session, cover it with an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce pain and inflammation.

Eating a healthful diet also plays a role in helping people to lose weight. Adopting a healthful lifestyle that includes exercise is more likely to help people lose weight and maintain weight loss than restrictive diets, which can be more challenging to maintain.

The AF offers the following steps for losing weight without dieting:

  • Using smaller plates. Portion sizes have increased over time, so many people eat more than their body needs without realizing it. Using a smaller dish may reduce how much a person eats by as much as 20 percent.
  • Staying hydrated. Drinking water before eating a meal can help people to feel fuller quicker.
  • Getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can slow the body’s production of a protein called leptin, which makes people feel full. It also increases the body’s production of ghrelin, a hormone that drives hunger.
  • Eating mindfully. Many people eat in front of the television, which can distract them from how much they are consuming. Eating more slowly and mindfully may help people reduce their calorie intake by 300 calories per day.

Learn more about ways to lose weight without diet or exercise here.

Complications

Being overweight or obese has links to a range of health complications. Some of these are made worse by PsA.

For example, people with PsA are at higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome than the general population.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol, and excess belly fat. People with this syndrome have an increased risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease.

According to the CDC, people who are obese or overweight are at an increased risk of:

Outlook

couple cycling in the country
Regular, gentle exercise can help a person with PsA lose weight.

People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop psoriatic arthritis.

When someone has PsA, painful joints can make exercise difficult, contributing to weight gain. This places even more pressure on the joints and can make symptoms, such as pain and stiffness, worse.

Being overweight can increase inflammation and may stop some PsA medications from working as well as they should.

Losing weight will not only help to ease the symptoms of PsA but could also improve a person’s overall health.

The best way to lose weight is to adopt a healthful lifestyle that includes exercise. People with PsA will benefit from low impact activities that do not place excess pressure on the joints.