Psoriatic Arthritis: How Complacency Can Lead to Setbacks

How living in a state of complacency can negatively impact PsA treatment and how to break out of a cycle of complacency.

Left untreated or undertreated, PsA has a greater risk of getting worse—and causing complications like joint damage and deformity.

Complacency refers to a state where a person becomes indifferent to their current situation and stops trying to make their situation better. It has been described as living on autopilot mode or being stuck. It can apply to many areas of life—careers, relationships, and health are all good examples.

When managing a chronic health condition like psoriatic arthritis (PsA), many people fall into a pattern of complacency. They may use medications less consistently over time. They may settle for a lower quality of life. They may continue working with a healthcare provider even though they are not satisfied with treatment outcomes.

Consistency versus complacency

Complacency should not be confused with consistency—though they can look similar on some days. Staying consistent and sticking to a routine is one of the best things you can do when managing a condition like PsA.

Routines can help you take your medication on time each day, get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, and keep stress to a minimum. Even that autopilot mode can be helpful—it can help you follow through on your good habits even on the days when you would rather not.

This is not about changing a therapy or treatment plan that is working well. It’s about not settling for less when things could be better.

Complacency can lead to setbacks

Another hallmark of complacency is avoiding risk. If PsA is currently manageable, a person may want to avoid any change that could make it worse—even if making that change has the potential to make it better.

There’s a different way you should be thinking about this—becoming complacent is taking a risk. It’s taking a risk that PsA will not progress with time. It’s a risk that PsA won’t impact your quality of life any further than it is already. It’s a risk that PsA won’t contribute to other health problems in the future.

There’s an adage that states, “Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.” While this is not true in every situation, it is true in some situations. And it is often true for PsA, which tends to get worse over time. Left untreated or undertreated, PsA has a greater risk of causing joint damage and deformity.

How to break the cycle of complacency

The first step to breaking out of complacency is to realize you’re complacent to begin with, and more specifically, the ways that you’ve become complacent.

A good place to start is simply by taking some time to think about where you are now, where you used to be, and where you want to be. Here are some questions that can help you get started:

  • Does psoriatic arthritis keep you from doing things you want to do?
  • What is the most difficult aspect of living with psoriatic arthritis?
  • Are you getting what you want out of treatment?
  • Have you ever discontinued treatment or thought about discontinuing treatment for PsA? Why?
  • What is the most difficult part of treating PsA?
  • Do you have concerns about other areas of your health, such as blood sugar, cardiovascular disease, or being overweight?
  • How often do you experience low moods or negative emotions?
  • How do you feel about your healthcare providers? This includes your rheumatologist as well as other healthcare providers.
  • When was the last time you learned something new about PsA?

In addition to taking time to yourself, try to spend some time with other people who have psoriatic arthritis—such as a support group that meets online or in person.

While PsA is a different experience for everyone, connecting with others can give you a broader look at how the condition—and its treatment—can impact a person’s life.

Article sources open article sources

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Daniel E. Furst, Melody Tran, et al. Misalignment between physicians and patient satisfaction with psoriatic arthritis disease control. Clinical Rheumatology, 2017. Vol. 36, No. 9.
Katherine R. Arlinghaus and Craig A. Johnston. The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 2019. Vol. 13, No. 2.
Arthritis Foundation. Healthy Lifestyle Habits When You Have PsA.
Susan Jara. The Stages of Psoriatic Arthritis: Signs of Early to Late Disease Progression. December 29, 2020.
UpToDate. Patient education: Psoriatic arthritis (Beyond the Basics).
Daneil Malito. If Murphy’s Law Was A Disease, It’d Be RA. February 19, 2021.
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