What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic Arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects the joints of people who have psoriasis. In a small number of cases, Psoriatic Arthritis will be diagnosed in an individual who does not have Psoriasis of the skin, but the skin disorder usually precedes the psoriatic arthropathy. It is a chronic form of arthritis that will generally present itself in a similar way as the skin disorder, with flare-ups, and not be a constant presence. However, this is not always the case, simply the most common presentation of the disease. Early detection and diagnosis of the disorder is critical because when left untreated, the disease may cause permanent joint damage. There are 5 different ways that psoriatic arthritis may manifest. These different types of psoriatic arthritis are:
- Asymmetric Psoriatic arthritis: also known as Oligoarticular Arthritis, generally, this is a mild form of this condition that affects the joints on only one side of the body
- Symmetric Psoriatic Arthritis: the most common form of Psoriatic Arthritis, however symptoms are still usually mild affecting joints on both sides of the body
- Distal Psoriatic Arthritis: Distal means further away from the midline of the body, this form of Psoriatic Arthritis mainly affects the joints of the fingertips and toes
- Spondylitis: this form of Psoriatic Arthritis is diagnosed when it affects the joints of your spinal column. This form often affects the sacroiliac joint (SI joint) located at the base of your spine
- Arthritis Mutilans: this type of Psoriatic Arthritis is rare and severe, affecting the hands and feet and can lead to significant bone loss and destruction and loss of function in the joint
What Causes Psoriatic Arthritis?
As with all autoimmune disorders, the exact cause of why this occurs is not known. Some risk factors and other conditions that have been found to be correlated with Psoriatic Arthritis are:
- Close relatives who have the disease
- An infection, accident, or other injury that stimulates the immune system
- Environmental factors
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Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
Inflammation in a joint or joints is the hallmark sign of Psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms can include:
- Pain, swelling, and stiffness in a joint or joint
- Pain and stiffness in the sacroiliac joint specifically as a main symptom of Spondylitic Psoriatic Arthritis
- Tenderness and swelling over the tendons and entheses (area that a tendon attaches to bone)
- Stiffness that is generally worse in the morning and gets better as the day goes on
- Nail bed changes
- Eye pain and redness
Treatment for Psoriatic Arthritis
Treatments for Psoriatic Arthritis is mainly a matter of managing symptoms through the use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), physical therapy. It will be a completely individualized treatment plan based on the severity of your symptoms and dysfunction the disease may be causing.
If the disease does not respond to the above, anti-rheumatic drugs may be prescribed. Also, there are medications in the form of injectables and infusions that may be considered. Other medications to consider are steroids, immunosuppressants, and topical treatments.
In the case of severe joint damage, a total or partial joint replacement may be warranted.