Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects people with the skin condition called psoriasis.
Psoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes red patches on the skin; these rashes typically feature silvery scales.
People who are diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis are already diagnosed with psoriasis.
In a few cases, joint problems can appear before the skin problems began.
As the disease affects those who suffer from psoriasis; many people who have this skin condition do not realize the risk of psoriatic arthritis.
Even individuals with mild psoriasis or those with relatives with psoriasis may develop psoriatic arthritis.
If you have psoriasis and you have joint pain or any of the other symptoms listed here, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
Psoriatic arthritis is a disorder that causes pain and inflammation in the joints.
It occurs in people with psoriasis, which is a chronic (long-lasting) disease of the skin that is characterized by the presence of a dry, scaly skin rash that causes itching. This rash or patch typically appears on the elbows, knees, and scalp.
Psoriasis can lead to changes in the fingernails and toenails like small depressions that look like little dots on the surface of the nails, called foveas.
Not everyone with psoriasis has psoriatic arthritis. Only 10 to 30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis.
Joint pain caused by psoriatic arthritis is usually associated with swelling and redness of joints, particularly in the knees, ankles, and fingers and toes.
Some individuals with psoriatic arthritis also have neck or back pain and stiffness, which may limit movement.
People who develop psoriatic arthritis may first have either skin or joint symptoms, but more often skin manifestations appear before joint pain.
Both symptoms can show up at the same time and fluctuate with episodes of exacerbation. Psoriatic arthritis affects both men and women. It usually develops between 30 and 55 years of age.
Although psoriatic arthritis can damage joints and other systems in the body, if medical experts diagnose and treat the condition at an early stage, they can significantly reduce the impact of the disease.
The cause of the disease is still unknown. Many believe that genetic (hereditary) factors, malfunction of the body’s immune system, inflammation in the joints and the environment, play a role in the development of the disease.
In inflammatory types of arthritis, such as psoriatic arthritis, the body’s defense system mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints, causing pain and inflammation.
Symptoms of the psoriatic arthritis
When you have psoriatic arthritis, your symptoms can get worse; some days your current condition may improve.
However, having your symptoms reduced doesn’t mean that you are okay now.
Some of the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis will include:
- Swollen fingers and toes that are quite painful. This is the initial sign or this disease. Your hands and feet can also start showing deformities.
- You can also have pain at the points where the tendons and ligaments are attached to your bones. This is particularly at the back of your heel or the sole of your foot.
- You can even experience some level of lower back pain.
- Pain and swelling in one or more joints, usually on the wrists, knees, ankles, or bones at the end of the fingers and toes (called distal).
- Swelling of the fingers or feet that gives the appearance of a sausage.
- Ailments where the tendons and ligaments attach to the bones, especially in the heel (Achilles tendon) or in the sole.
- Pain in the lower back, neck or buttocks.
- Dry and scaly gray or gray spots that peel off the skin, located on the scalp, elbows, knees, or the lower end of the spine.
- Fóvea, characterized by tiny depressions in the nails of the fingers or feet, and detachment of the fingernails.
The course of psoriatic arthritis varies. The constant presence of heat and swelling in the membrane lining the joint, called the synovium, could cause damage and deformity in the joint.
With proper treatment, most people lead a healthy and happy life.
Which joints can be affected?
Psoriatic arthritis affects the peripheral joints such as the knees, toes, and feet. In most cases, more than five joints are affected. This is known as polyarthritis.
When the peripheral joints are affected, psoriatic arthritis can occur in the same joints on both sides of the body (symmetric arthritis).
For example, the right and left knees may have arthritis. At the beginning of the disease, however, it is more common to happen in various joints on both sides of the body (asymmetric arthritis). For example, the right hand and left knee may be affected.
There are those who only have inflammation in the distal joints of the fingers and toes. Also, the whole finger can swell and cause pain, which is called the “sausage” digit.
Approximately 5% of people with psoriatic arthritis have arthritis only in the joints of the spine. This is called spondylitis. This form of psoriatic arthritis usually affects the sacroiliac joints and joints of the lower back and neck regions.
This creates pain and stiffness in the buttocks, lower back, neck and along the spine.
This can lead to a restriction in the movements of the spine. Some people with psoriatic arthritis have compromised the spine and peripheral joints or limbs.
Treatment of psoriatic arthritis
Even if you can cure psoriatic arthritis, you can treat the disease so that you can be able to live without too much discomfort and pain.
The treatment usually starts with a combination of anti-inflammatory medication and exercise.
If the inflammation in your joints is too severe, your doctor can give you other medicines like methotrexate, corticosteroids, and antimalarial medications.
These medications are a lot stronger and will have a better effect on the severe inflammation in your joints.
The exercise program that is also important in the treatment of psoriatic arthritis can be done at home or with the help of a physical therapist.
The therapist will design the exercise program to fit the severity of your condition.
If doctors diagnosed you with psoriatic arthritis, you don’t need to live in pain. Medical experts and a physical therapist can help you manage the pain this condition causes.