What is psoriatic arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that affects some people who have psoriasis, which is a condition that features red patches of skin topped with silvery scales, with arthritis. Most people develop psoriasis first and are later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, but the joint problems can sometimes begin before skin lesions appear.
How common is psoriatic arthritis?
According to The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), about two percent of the United States population has psoriasis. Between 10 and 30 percent of psoriasis patients develop psoriatic arthritis. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is chronic disease that gets worse over time, but you may have periods when your symptoms improve or go into remission alternating with times when symptoms become worse.
Psoriatic arthritis can affect joints on just one side or on both sides of your body. The signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis often resemble those of rheumatoid arthritis. Both diseases cause joints to become painful, swollen and warm to the touch.
However, psoriatic arthritis is more likely to also cause:
Swollen fingers and toes
Psoriatic arthritis can cause a painful, sausage-like swelling of your fingers and toes. You may also develop swelling and deformities in your hands and feet before having significant joint symptoms.
Psoriatic arthritis can also cause pain at the points where tendons and ligaments attach to your bones, especially at the back of your heel (Achilles tendinitis) or in the sole of your foot (plantar fasciitis).
Lower back pain
Some people develop a condition called spondylitis as a result of psoriatic arthritis. Spondylitis mainly causes inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae of your spine and in the joints between your spine and pelvis (sacroiliitis)
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes psoriatic arthritis?
We don’t know exactly why some people get the condition and others don’t, but it seems to run in families. As many as 40% of people with psoriatic arthritis have a family member with skin or joint problems.
Up to a third of people who have psoriasis, a skin disease that causes a red, scaly rash, often over the elbows, knees, ankles, feet, and hands, will get psoriatic arthritis. Both of these diseases happen because your immune system attacks your body instead of something from outside.
Psoriatic arthritis usually shows up between ages 30 and 50, but it may start in childhood. Both men and women get it. Many people have the skin disease first, but not everyone will.
What increases my risk for psoriatic arthritis?
There are many risk factors for this condition, such as:
Having psoriasis is the single greatest risk factor for developing psoriatic arthritis. People who have psoriasis lesions on their nails are especially likely to develop psoriatic arthritis.
Your family history
Many people with psoriatic arthritis have a parent or a sibling with the disease.
Although anyone can develop psoriatic arthritis, it occurs most often in adults between the ages of 30 and 50.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is psoriatic arthritis diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. These tests may include:
Plain X-rays can help pinpoint changes in the joints that occur in psoriatic arthritis but not in other arthritic conditions.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
MRI utilizes radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce very detailed images of both hard and soft tissues in your body. This type of imaging test may be used to check for problems with the tendons and ligaments in your feet and lower back.
Rheumatoid factor (RF)
RF is an antibody that’s often present in the blood of people with rheumatoid arthritis, but it’s not usually in the blood of people with psoriatic arthritis.
Joint fluid test
Using a needle, your doctor can remove a small sample of fluid from one of your affected joints — often the knee. Uric acid crystals in your joint fluid may indicate that you have gout rather than psoriatic arthritis..
How is psoriatic arthritis treated?
No cure exists for psoriatic arthritis, so treatment focuses on controlling inflammation in your affected joints to prevent joint pain and disability.
Drugs used to treat psoriatic arthritis include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
These drugs can slow the progression of psoriatic arthritis and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage.
These medications act to tame your immune system, which is out of control in psoriatic arthritis
- TNF-alpha inhibitors
Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is an inflammatory substance produced by your body. TNF-alpha inhibitors can help reduce pain, morning stiffness, and tender or swollen joints.
Surgical and other procedures
- Steroid injections
This type of medication reduces inflammation quickly and is sometimes injected into an affected joint.
- Joint replacement surgery
Joints that have been severely damaged by psoriatic arthritis can be replaced with artificial prostheses made of metal and plastic.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage psoriatic arthritis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with this condition:
- Eat a balanced diet and maintain your best weight
Obesity aggravates arthritis and can make movement more difficult. Talk with your doctor about planning a diet if you need help losing weight.
- Exercise regularly
Being sedentary slows you down and increases the risk of obesity and other diseases. Talk with your doctor about what type of exercise is safe to do daily. Biking, walking, swimming, and other water exercises are gentler on the joints than other forms of exercise.
- Take your time
Pacing yourself can help prevent discomfort, strain, and injuries.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Psoriatic arthritis. http://www.healthline.com/health/psoriatic-arthritis. Accessed February 7, 2017.
Psoriatic arthritis. http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/psoriatic-arthritis/psoriatic-arthritis#2. Accessed February 7, 2017.
Psoriatic arthritis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/diagnosis-treatment/clinical-trials/rsc-20233951. Accessed February 7, 2017.
Review Date: August 28, 2017 | Last Modified: August 31, 2017