Psoriatic Arthritis: What You Need to Know
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a form of arthritis that affects individuals with psoriasis – a disease characterized by red areas of skin topped with silvery scales.
Most individuals develop psoriasis first, then they’re diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis later.
People with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritics experience physiological distress caused by the condition. These include avoiding social events or not going to work because of the flare-ups.
Psoriatic arthritis affects about 6% to 42% of Americans and doctors often misdiagnose this condition.
If you or your loved one has psoriatic arthritis, here are some answers to the question you might have about this condition.
What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means it occurs because your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in the skin and joints.
The immune response cause inflammation that triggers stiffness, joint pain, and swelling.
The inflammation can affect any part of your body including such as the fingers or spine and the pain can range from mild to severe.
In both psoriatic arthritic and psoriasis, the flare-ups alternate with periods of remission.
Although there’s no cure for psoriatic arthritis, existing treatment options focus on alleviating the symptoms of the diseases and inhibiting damage to the joints.
Types of Psoriatic Arthritis
Asymmetric Psoriatic Arthritis
This condition affects the joints on one side of your body. Your joints will turn red and feel sore. This condition is usually mild and only affects 35% of people with psoriatic arthritis.
Symmetric Psoriatic Arthritis
Unlike Asymmetric, which affects joints on one side of your body, this type affects joints on both sides of your body (both the left and right knee, or both the left and right elbow).
This type of Psoriatic Arthritis has symptoms similar to those of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
However, symmetric psoriatic arthritis tends to be milder and results in less deformity, unlike rheumatoid arthritis.
Nearly half of the people with PsA have symmetric PsA.
Spondylitis Psoriatic Arthritis
This type affects your entire spine from neck to your lower back. It can make movement painful and unbearable. Sometimes your arms, legs, hips, and feet also get affected.
Distal Interphalangeal Predominant Psoriatic Arthritis
This condition targets the joints closest to your nails (distal joints). It affects about 10% of individuals with psoriatic arthritis.
Signs and Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
The signs and symptoms of this disease differ for each individual. In some people it is mild, while in others it can be severe. Similarly, the condition can go into remission and not affect you for a long time but at other times the flare ups get bad and lead to severe pain.
The most common symptoms include:
- Morning stiffness
- Swollen fingers and toes
- Lower backaches
- Nail pitting
- Flaky scalp
- Jains that are warm to the touch
- Pain in the soles of feet and heels
- Painful muscles and tendons
- Swollen and tender joints.
Common Treatment Options of Psoriatic Arthritis
Even with no cure, the treatment options tend to alleviate the pain and help the disease go back into remission. Active symptoms that aren’t addressed early can cause permanent joint damage.
When diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, the doctor will provide you with a wide range of treatment options. These include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These medications are often the first course of treatment and they help control pain and swelling.
They usually have fewer side effect but if used incorrectly, NSAIDs can result in heart attack, stroke, and liver and kidney damage.
Steroids: These can bring down intense inflammation and acute flares. Once injected to the joints they reduce swelling, but they can also suppress the immune system and cause a slight joint infection.
Immunosuppressants: They moderate the immune system and slow it down to prevent it from going into attack mode. But because they weaken the immune system, you’re more susceptible to infections.
Biologics: Biological drugs like tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors reduce the effects of the inflammation-causing substance in the body.
They assist your joints to gain back mobility and comfort. But they can result in serious side effects like susceptibility to infection or hair loss.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): These drugs reduce inflammation to prevent joint damage and to slow the progression of psoriatic arthritis.
Joint Surgery: This is a more invasive option if the damage is too serious. The joints get replaced by artificial material to help patients regain a wide range of motion and have a quality life.
Surgery like synovectomy gets rid of a portion of your joint lining to reduce pain and damage.
Alternative Treatment Options
There are some things you can do at home to improve your symptoms, but remember they don’t treat the disease.
Exercising for about 30 minutes daily can help you maintain a healthy weight and keep your joint moving to reduce stiffness.
Extra weight exerts too much pressure on your knees. Shedding off some pounds can help you significantly.
Biking, swimming, and walking can help you get rid of excess fat in your body, therefore diminishing inflammation. These activities can also reduce pressure on your joints.
Consuming a healthy diet
Individuals suffering from psoriasis usually feel better when they consume healthier foods. A balanced diet can ease the symptoms and can reduce inflammation.
You should include these foods in your everyday meal plan:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Healthy fats
- Sweet potatoes
Avoid sugar, fat, and alcohol since they cause more weight gain. This is bad for your joints and can lead to increased inflammations.
Turmeric and omega-3-fatty acids come with anti-inflammatory properties. When consumed they might help reduce inflammation, stiffness in joints, and flares.
Psoriatic arthritis can affect anyone but it’s most prevalent in people aged 30 to 50 years.
Those who develop it at a younger age tend to suffer from joint damage than those who develop the condition as adults.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, new oral medications might be more effective than traditional drugs. Since they accurately locate the molecules in immune cells and prevent them from becoming overactive.
Studies conducted in 2016, found out that a protein has a major influence in the development of psoriatic arthritis.
Scientists are also testing new therapies that could inhibit the protein in the skin. There’s also a tropical remedy that can transform your DNA to block an immune response.
If you’re suffering from psoriatic arthritis, you might find it hard to walk or do other day-to-day activities, especially if your symptoms are severe.
Luckily, there are many treatment options to ease your symptoms. Consult your doctor to find which option works for you.
Early detection also plays a crucial role in managing psoriatic arthritis. Remember to take advantage of a healthy lifestyle to alleviate your symptoms and to live a quality life.