Patients who have chronic diseases such as arthritis often feel tired and run down. When you have arthritis and psoriasis, another chronic disease, the two diseases in combination intensify everyday fatigue. If you have psoriatic arthritis, here's what you need to know.

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes itchy red patches with silver scales on the surface. It can occur anywhere in the body, but most often strikes the elbows, knees, fingers and toes. Psoriatic arthritis is arthritis associated with psoriasis.

Psoriatic arthritis can be mild and affect only one or a few joints, usually the fingers and toes. In patients with severe cases, however, the disease may affect numerous joints including the spine. Often the skin condition worsens as the arthritis worsens.

Roughly one in 20 people with psoriasis will also develop arthritis. Arthritis usually appears about 10 years after the onset of psoriasis, although the two develop simultaneously in about 15 percent of cases. Children are more likely to develop the two diseases at the same time. Fortunately, psoriatic arthritis usually affects only one joint in children.

Fatigue and Psoriatic Arthritis

Fatigue and anemia (insufficient iron) are common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Some patients even experience narcoleptic-like episodes (involuntarily falling sleep) when driving on the highway for more than 30 minutes. In a study of 499 psoriatic arthritis patients, 50 percent reported moderate fatigue and another 29 percent reported experiencing severe fatigue. Arthritis inflammation, arthritis medications and inactivity can all cause fatigue.

Managing Fatigue

If you have psoriatic arthritis, you don't have to resign yourself to chronic fatigue as well. Taking a few simple steps can help you maintain your energy.

Get plenty of rest and sleep. Getting a good night sleep may be a challenge when you have arthritis, but sleep is a powerful healer. It reduces fatigue and alleviates joint inflammation.

Exercise. Try to remain active and schedule time for exercise. It will give you energy and help you sleep better at night.

Pace yourself.  Although being active is important, take breaks and rest before you become overly tired. Divide your activities into short periods with regular breaks in between.

Treat depression. People with chronic disease often become understandably depressed. However, depression exacerbates fatigue. If you are depressed, discuss treatment options with your doctor.