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Key Information About Psoriatic Arthritis

Updated on July 11, 2019
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Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic inflammatory joint disease associated with psoriasis.

Between 10 and 30 percent of people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis, which is most commonly a seronegative oligoarthritis.

MRI of Psoriatic Arthritis

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source

Types

 
Distal interphalangeal predominant
Asymmetric oligoarticular
Symmetric polyarthritis
Spondylitis
Arthritis mutilans

Causes

The cause of psoriatic arthritis is not known. It may result from a combination of genetic (family), environmental, and immune factors.

Many experts are of the opinion that like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning it occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, in this case the joints and skin.

Up to 40 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis have a family history of skin or joint disease.

Children of parents with psoriasis are three times more likely to have psoriasis and are at greater risk for developing psoriatic arthritis than children born of parents without psoriasis.

HLA-B27 is a powerful predisposing gene associated with this arthritis. The gene itself does not cause disease, but can make people more susceptible.

Source

Symptoms

Symptoms of this chronic condition include pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. Commonly affected joints are neck, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, knees, ankles and toes.

Changes to your nails, such as pitting, may be an early sign of this condition. Pitted nails appear bumpy or dented.

Fingers and toes may swell and take on a sausage-like appearance known as dactylitis.

This disease often begins with a few swollen joints. A single finger or toe may be noticeably swollen. Some people feel stiff when they wake up. As they move around, the stiffness fades.

Some patients experience tenderness or pain where tendons or ligaments attach to bones. This commonly occurs at the heel (Achilles tendinitis) or the bottom of the foot (plantar fasciitis), but it can also occur in the elbow (tennis elbow).

Simply living with psoriatic arthritis is stressful — it affects every part of your being. There is no denying that emotional stress can trigger flares; likewise, flares can cause increased stress.

“Any time you have a lot of inflammation for a long time you get bone loss,” says Harris H. McIlwain, MD, a board-certified rheumatologist in Tampa, Florida. “Not only does PsA cause joint pain, swelling, fatigue, and skin issues, systemic bone loss has been documented to occur, and increased occurrence of fractures is reported.”

When my joints swell, it feels like someone has wedged a screwdriver into them and is trying to pry my joints out. Swelling around the spine sends nerve pain down to my toes and up through my skull.

— Cynthia Covert, 48, a blogger, writer and psoriatic arthritis patient from Riverside, California.

Structure of Ibuprofen

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source

Treatment

Doctors usually do a physical exam and imaging tests to diagnose psoriatic arthritis.

There is no cure for this arthritis. The goal of treatment of this chronic condition is to control inflammation of the affected joints, prevent joints pain and prevent disability.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and immunosuppressants are some medicines used to treat psoriatic arthritis.

In severe cases, there is a risk of the joints becoming permanently damaged or deformed, which may require surgical treatment.

Prevention

Do yoga daily. Put as little stress on the joints as possible. Use larger, stronger joints when you can, instead of smaller ones.

Do you practice yoga?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R

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