Psoriasis is a common skin condition affecting 15-30% of Americans and psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory infection occurring in people with psoriasis. Not all the people with psoriasis get this type of infectious arthritis but only some are prone to develop psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis is marked by red scaly patches on the skin with silver lining. Subsequently they may develop joint infection leading to psoriatic arthritis.
Often people get PA only after developing psoriasis but there are some cases that develop psoriatic arthritis first. This type of arthritis also causes stiffness in the joints due to swelling or inflammation. It can occur on any part of your body including finger tips or spine. Like rheumatoid arthritis the symptoms will disappear during remission to comeback during period of flares. Treatment is available only to manage pain and further damage of joints.
The signs of psoriatic arthritis range from mild to severe. The pain may be subtle for some people and severe for others. Some of the common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are stiffness of joints, discomfort, pain (can be intense or throbbing) and it can restrict the joint movements for some people. The joints become rigid and stiff during mornings and slowly gain flexibility over the day. It can cause scaly spots on the skin where the joints are affected.
Stiffness of joints can be felt on the knees, elbows, wrists and ankles and even fingers and toes. It can cause small pits on your nails and for severe cases, the fingernails gets detached from the body. Very often, the joints on both sides of the body get affected during psoriatic arthritis. The disease is chronic and the symptoms get worse as the disease progresses. In many cases, the fingers or toes become swollen and the shape changes its shape. It can cause intense pain in your foot causing difficulty in walking. Lower back pain is common in psoriatic arthritis.
According to the position of joints that has been affected, psoriatic arthritis is classified into 3 types.
- Symmetric type is one in which the joints of both sides of the body are inflamed.
- Asymmetric type affects only one side of the body like hip or knee joints.
- Interphalangeal predominant type involves small joints like fingers or toes.
Exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is not known. It is believed to occur due to autoimmune disorder wherein body’s own immunity would attack healthy tissues of the joints causing inflammation. Genetic and environmental factors also play role in causing psoriatic arthritis.
Risk Factors :
About 10-30% of people with psoriasis (skin problem) can develop psoriatic arthritis. Adults who are above 40 years are likely to develop this disorder. People with family history of skin problems or joints problem have increased chance of developing PA. In rare cases, psoriatic arthritis may affect the mutilans (small bones) on your fingers causing permanent disability.
Your doctor will complete physical exam closely looking for swollen joints or tenderness. He would pay attention to your fingernails to check if any pits or deformity is there. He may order for imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scan. He may check for rheumatoid factor in your blood to find whether it is rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis.
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Psoriatic Arthritis :
No cure exists for psoriatic arthritis, but medications can improve your symptoms and general lifestyle.
NSAID drugs like Ibuprofen can be taken to reduce chronic pain. But consult your doctor if you intend to use them for long term. For severe pain, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids in the form of pills or give you a shot directly on the affected joint.
Disease modifying rheumatic drugs DMARD is widely used for treating psoriatic arthritis. Drugs like methotrexate or sulfasalazine, Remicade or embrel are prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain. Physiotherapy is effective in reducing joint stiffness. For people who are overweight, weight reduction program should be initiated since it can worsen your joint pain due to increased pressure. Doing regular exercise is helpful in gaining flexibility of joints. You can also try using hot and cold packs on the affected joints to get relief from symptoms. Surgery is the last option if the swelling of joints is worse causing deformity in shape and preventing you to carryout daily tasks.
Home Remedies :
The way you walk or do certain tasks can affect your joints in many ways. You need to be aware of distributing weight throughout your body instead of putting extra pressure on the joints. You can make use of assistive device like canes, walkers; grab bars etc to get relief from stress while doing routine work. Some doctors advice using splints to reduce joint destruction.