What is psoriatic arthritis?

Understanding your condition

Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory joint condition that affects people with psoriasis. It's similar to rheumatoid arthritis, but the inflammation occurs in people with psoriasis (a skin condition characterised by red, scaly patches).

While symptoms can be mild, ongoing treatment is usually needed to prevent further damage to the joints. There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, but natural treatments can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

middle aged woman sitting on edge of bed with legs crossed itching back of hand
young woman standing against white brick wall in warm weather smiling

Psoriatic arthritis alternative treatment

Australians looking for an alternative treatment for psoriatic arthritis find that a holistic, natural approach can improve their symptoms and overall quality of life.  Our approach is to find the factors that are driving your condition so we can treat the actual problem, not just the symptoms.

We understand that every person is unique, so we tailor our treatments to your individual needs. This means you'll receive care that is specific to you, and that can help you find lasting relief.


What are the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis?

Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can vary from person to person, but they usually involve inflammation of the joints. This can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in one or more joints, and reduced range of movement.

Other symptoms may include:

  • pain in the tendons
  • thick or coloured fingernails or toenails
  • pain or redness in the eyes

Many people find that their symptoms come and go. They may worsen during a “flare-up” and then improve during remission.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. The severity of the condition can range from mild to severe, and there is no guaranteed correlation between the severity of skin disease and arthritic involvement. Some patients may have severe skin disease but no arthritis, while others with arthritis may have only minimal skin disease.

If psoriatic arthritis is left untreated, it can lead to joint damage and deformity. This can cause significant pain and disability. Psoriatic arthritis can also affect other parts of the body, such as the eyes, heart, and lungs.

What causes eczema?


Research has found people with the ‘atopic triad’ have a defective barrier of the skin and upper and lower respiratory tracts.

These genetic alterations cause a loss of function of filaggrin (filament aggregating protein), which is a protein in the skin that normally breaks down to create natural moisturisation and protect the skin from penetration by pathogens and allergens.

Filaggrin mutations are found in approximately 30 percent of people with atopic dermatitis, and also predispose people to asthma, allergic rhinitis (hayfever), keratosis pilaris (dry rough patches and bumps on the skin), and ichthyosis vulgaris (a chronic condition which causes thick, dry, scaly skin.)If one parent carries this genetic alteration, there is a 50 percent chance their child will develop atopic symptoms. And that risk increases to 80 percent if both parents are affected. 

Food allergy and sensitivity

Food hypersensitivity has been found to cause or exacerbate atopic dermatitis in 10-30% of cases, and 90% of these are caused by eggs, milk, peanuts, soy and wheat.

Compromised gut health

The connection between the gut microbiome and skin health is complex, however, research has found the microbiota contributes to the development, persistence, and severity of atopic dermatitis through immunologic, metabolic and neuroendocrine pathways.

Nutritional deficiencies

Deficiency of Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA) has been linked with the increased incidence of atopic dermatitis, along with the inability for the body to efficiently metabolise EFA’s to gamma linoleic acids (GLA) and arachidonic acids (AA).

Weather and environment

Changing weather conditions can certainly aggravate eczema symptoms, but the triggers are subject to change among individuals.


Hormones also play a role in the course of atopic dermatitis, including the stress hormone cortisol which triggers an inflammatory immune response affecting all organs of the body, including the skin.

Mould exposure

Mould exposure and susceptibility to mould can cause Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), of which dermatitis is a manifestation.

Get relief, naturally

Start now

What causes psoriatic arthritis?

The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown, but it's thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

It's believed that people with a family history of psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, or other autoimmune diseases are more likely to develop the condition. Researchers have also discovered certain genetic markers that may be linked to psoriatic arthritis.

Physical trauma or environmental factors (like a viral or bacterial infection) may trigger psoriatic arthritis in people with a family history.

Gut health is involved in psoriatic arthritis in a few ways. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in gut bacteria, is one way. People with psoriatic arthritis are found to have a less diverse microbiome. This can lead to inflammation and other problems. Intestinal hyperpermeability, or "leaky gut", is another way gut health is involved in psoriatic arthritis. This means that there are gaps in the intestines that allow bacteria and other substances to leak out. This can also lead to inflammation. Treating gut health issues can help reduce symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.

Risk factors

Some people are more at risk of developing psoriatic arthritis than others. Factors that may increase your risk include:

  • Having a family member with psoriatic arthritis or another autoimmune condition
  • Having the genetic mutation HLA-B27
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Having a history of psoriasis
  • Having HIV/AIDS
  • Stress
  • Certain infections, such as streptococcal infection

Psoriatic arthritis can develop at any age, but it is most commonly diagnosed in adults between the ages of 30 and 50. Men and women are affected equally.

Treatment for psoriatic arthritis - the conventional approach

There is currently no cure for psoriatic arthritis, but there are treatments that can help relieve symptoms and prevent long-term damage. Conventional psoriatic arthritis treatment in Australia typically involves a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and physical therapy.

The goals of treatment are to:

  • relieve pain and swelling
  • reduce inflammation
  • prevent joint damage
  • immune suppression
  • improve quality of life

Medications used to treat psoriatic arthritis include:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs can help reduce pain and swelling. Common NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen (Aleve).

Corticosteroids. These drugs can be taken orally or injected into joints to help reduce inflammation.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). DMARDs can slow the progression of joint damage and improve symptoms. Common DMARDs include methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine).

Biologic agents. Biologic agents are newer DMARDs that target specific parts of the immune system to help reduce inflammation. Common biologics used to treat psoriatic arthritis include adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), and ustekinumab (Stelara).

In addition to medication, lifestyle changes can also help manage symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. These include:

  • Exercise. Exercise can help reduce pain and stiffness, increase range of motion, and improve overall fitness
  • Weight control. Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the stress on joints.
  • Heat and cold therapy. Applying heat or cold to painful joints can help relieve symptoms
  • Splinting or bracing. Wearing splints or braces can help support and protect joints

Physical therapy may also be recommended to help improve range of motion and reduce pain. Occupational therapy can help people with psoriatic arthritis learn new ways to perform daily tasks and cope with the symptoms of the condition.

For severe cases of psoriatic arthritis, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace joints. Surgery is typically only considered when other treatments have failed. The conventional approach to treating psoriatic arthritis has its limitations. NSAIDs and corticosteroids can cause side effects such as stomach upset, ulcers, and kidney problems. DMARDs can cause serious side effects, such as liver damage, lung inflammation, and nerve damage. Biologic agents can also cause side effects, such as injection site reactions and an increased risk of infections.

Lifestyle changes and physical therapy can help reduce symptoms, but they may not be enough to prevent joint damage. Surgery is typically only considered as a last resort.

When it comes to treating psoriatic arthritis in Australia, people seek out psoriatic arthritis specialists or help with healing psoriatic arthritis naturally, because of the potential side effects of conventional treatments. Functional medicine focuses on treating the underlying causes of disease, rather than just the symptoms. This approach may help to reduce the need for medication and surgery.

The functional medicine approach to psoriatic arthritis

At Melbourne Functional Medicine, our functional medicine specialists provide a personalised approach to each person with psoriatic arthritis. We assess gut health, nutrient status, and identify triggers and drivers of the disease. Our goal is to treat the underlying causes of psoriatic arthritis and help our patients achieve long-term remission.

Functional medicine starts with an in-depth history taking, which will look at medical history, genetic predispositions, environmental exposures, diet, medications, and more to determine what the root cause triggers may be.

There are a variety of functional medicine tests that can be used to investigate factors that could be sustaining or contributing to the immune system behaving in a pro-inflammatory way. Tests can help to assess gut health, nutrient status, and inflammation levels. Some of the tests we often use include stool analysis, food sensitivity testing, and blood work. These tests can help us to create a personalised treatment plan that addresses the underlying causes of psoriatic arthritis and leads to lasting improvements in symptoms and overall health.

Your functional medicine practitioner will design a detailed, personalised, holistic plan for psoriatic arthritis with targeted herbal, lifestyle, and supplemental medicine and dietary changes to address psoriatic arthritis.

Herbal medicine can help to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and improve joint function. Herbs used may include:

  • Curcumin
  • Capsaicin
  • Boswellia
  • Ginger

Nutritional supplementation may include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and have been shown to be effective in treating psoriatic arthritis. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that omega-3 fatty acids were effective in reducing pain and improving joint function in people with psoriatic arthritis.
  • Vitamin D deficiency is often found in people with psoriatic arthritis. Vitamin D is important for bone health and helps to reduce inflammation. Supplementation with vitamin D is often required for people with psoriatic arthritis and our practitioners can help with testing and supplementation

Dietary changes

Dietary changes are an important part of the treatment plan for psoriatic arthritis. Avoiding inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, and unhealthy fats can help to reduce symptoms and promote healing. Functional medicine food testing can also help identify unique dietary drivers that may be contributing to psoriatic arthritis.

Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet with nutrient-dense foods is helpful for people with psoriatic arthritis. This type of diet can help to reduce symptoms, promote healing, and improve overall health. Foods that are anti-inflammatory and good for people with psoriatic arthritis include fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, and ginger.


Low impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and yoga can help to prevent joint stiffness, improve muscle strength and flexibility, and reduce pain. Exercise is an important part of the treatment plan for psoriatic arthritis to reduce negative impacts on range of motion and flexibility.

Stress reduction

People with psoriatic arthritis often experience stress associated with the condition. Stress can worsen symptoms and lead to flare-ups, as stress contributes to immune dysfunction. Improving stress adaptation on your own can be difficult, and requires building new habits and behaviours, which is a strong focus at our clinic, and one of the reasons why our patients work with a health coach to manage their stress. Stress management and relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help to reduce stress and promote healing.

Improving sleep

Sleep patterns in people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are often compromised, making fatigue a common symptom. One global study showed that 40 percent of participants said they didn’t get quality sleep. Getting enough sleep is important for people with psoriatic arthritis because it helps to reduce stress, promote healing, and improve overall health.


Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been shown to be effective in treating psoriatic arthritis. Acupuncture works by stimulating the body’s natural healing response and can help to reduce pain, improve joint function, and promote healing. Because of the benefits, we often refer our patients to acupuncturists for treatment.

Optimising gut health

Optimising gut health is often a key part of treatment for psoriatic arthritis. Improving the microbiome with prebiotics and probiotics, and repairing the intestinal mucosa (leaky gut) can help to reduce symptoms, promote healing, and improve overall health.

At Melbourne Functional Medicine, we also seek to address psoriasis in our patients with psoriatic arthritis. Our personalised treatment plans often involve treating psoriasis with topical creams and ointments, recommendations for using light therapy, and natural medicines. By addressing both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, our patients can experience significant improvements in their symptoms and overall health.

Our holistic six-month program provides patients with the support of a practitioner to guide their treatment, as well as the support of a health coach who is there to help them implement their health plan. This program is designed to help patients achieve their health goals and feel happy and healthy in their bodies. Our program includes individualised treatment plans, regular check-ins with our practitioners, and access to our online community for support and motivation. This program is an effective way to treat psoriatic arthritis and improve overall health.

If you’re looking for an alternative treatment for psoriatic arthritis in Australia, our team at Melbourne Functional Medicine can help. We are specialists in treating psoriatic arthritis and can create a personalised treatment plan to address the underlying causes of your symptoms. Our holistic approach to care is designed to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Contact us today to learn more about our program and how we can help you achieve your health goals.

Case study

See how functional medicine is helping our patients achieve better health and richer lives.

Are you ready for a personalised, natural functional medicine treatment? Our unique model of care was designed with you in mind. Find out how below, then book a call today!


What are the 5 types of psoriatic arthritis?

There are five types of psoriatic arthritis:

1. Symmetric arthritis – This is the most common type of psoriatic arthritis and affects both sides of the body equally.

2. Asymmetric arthritis – This type of psoriatic arthritis affects only one side of the body.

3. Spondyloarthritis – This type of psoriatic arthritis affects the joints in the spine, as well as the hips, knees, and ankles.

4. Distal interphalangeal predominant (DIP) – This type of psoriatic arthritis affects the joints at the ends of the fingers and toes, known as the distal interphalangeal joints.

5. Arthritis mutilans – This is the most severe form of psoriatic arthritis and can cause deformities in the joints, as well as loss of function.

Is psoriatic arthritis an autoimmune disease?

Yes, psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues by mistake.

The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

What specialist treats psoriatic arthritis?

A rheumatologist is a specialist for psoriatic arthritis. Rheumatologists are medical doctors who have completed training in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones.

Many people seek a more holistic approach to their health with a psoriatic arthritis alternative treatment. Seeking the support of a functional medicine specialist, or a psoriatic arthritis naturopath may provide a more natural approach to managing and resolving psoriatic arthritis.

What is the difference between psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

The key difference between psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is that psoriatic arthritis affects the joints in the fingers and toes, while rheumatoid arthritis does not. Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than men, while psoriatic arthritis is more common in men than women.

Both psoriatic arthritis and rheumatid arthritis are autoimmune conditions, and both can cause joint deformity, and can affect any joints. The main way to differentiate between the two is blood work, and the psoriasis that is present on the body of psoriatic arthritis sufferers. 

Can you get psoriatic arthritis without psoriasis?

Yes, it is possible to get psoriatic arthritis without psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects people with psoriasis, but it can also occur in people without psoriasis.

The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, it is important to see a doctor so that they can make a diagnosis and begin treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment are important in managing psoriatic arthritis.

How to treat psoriatic arthritis naturally

There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, but there are many ways to manage the disease and ease symptoms. The first step in a holistic treatment for psoriatic arthritis is to identify key drivers and attend to those, such as gut dysbiosis, viruses, toxins, and foods.

Some natural treatments for psoriatic arthritis include:

  • Exercise: Exercise can help reduce pain and stiffness in the joints. It is important to find an exercise program that works for you and that you can stick with.
  • Diet: Eating a healthy diet is important for people with psoriatic arthritis. Some foods that may help ease symptoms include fish, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Stress relief: Stress can make psoriatic arthritis symptoms worse. Finding ways to manage stress, such as through relaxation techniques or counselling, can help improve symptoms.
  • Supplements: There are several supplements that may help ease psoriatic arthritis symptoms, including fish oil, turmeric, and ginger. It is important to speak with a doctor before taking any supplements, as they can interact with medications.

Seeking a psoriatic arthritis alternative treatment like the psoriatic arthritis functional medicine approach may help to improve symptoms and bring about relief.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Reach out to the team directly – we’ll be happy to assist.