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Everything You Need to Know About Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic Arthritis - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

Story At-A-Glance
  • Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that causes your joints to become painful and swollen.
  • If left untreated for too long, this health problem can cause permanent damage to the joints.
  • Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means the body mistakenly attacks healthy cells as it can’t tell the difference between those and bad ones.
  • Psoriatic arthritis appears in some people who have psoriasis, which causes the same inflammation in the skin.
  • This condition is very painful in its sufferers, causing swelling, inflammation, and sore, stiff joints.
  • Psoriatic arthritis can appear anywhere, and the symptoms can include lower back pain, fatigue, and red and scaly patches on the skin.
  • There is no definitive cause of psoriatic arthritis.
  • Psoriatic arthritis can reduce a person’s mobility and movement, which can worsen over time.

Introduction

Psoriatic Arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the body will mistakenly attack the body’s healthy tissues instead of the bad tissue. It can cause inflammation of the joints, causing them to swell, which causes pain that the person can feel as mild or severe.

Over time, if this inflammation[1] is not treated, it can lead to permanent damage of the affected joints, affecting mobility and range of movement.

It can affect different people in different ways, so read on to find out how this autoimmune disorder can be treated and managed.

What is Psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a condition where the joints swell with inflammation. The inflammation comes from an autoimmune reaction from the body, where it attacks healthy tissues by mistake as it can’t determine whether the tissues are good or bad. It is usually experienced by people who already have psoriasis – this is the same condition that affects the skin, causing scaly red and risen areas.

This condition in the joints can be extremely painful in people who have it, causing a reduction in mobility and movement and extreme pain upon any exertion of the joints. Also, it can cause visible redness and bumps in areas such as the joints in the hands and feet.

Joints swell with inflammation

What Are the Different Types of Psoriatic Arthritis?

There are five different types of psoriatic arthritis that all display varying symptoms and have different characteristics. Below are the different types of psoriatic arthritis and the main features of the specific condition:

  • Psoriatic Arthritis Mutilans – This usually affects the feet and hands primarily but can also affect the back and neck. It is a severe and deformative variant of psoriatic arthritis.
  • Distal Interphalangeal Predominant Psoriatic Arthritis – The main characteristic of this type is that it occurs predominantly within the distal interphalangeal joints[2], which are the ones found closest to the nails in the feet and hands.
  • Spondylitis Psoriatic Arthritis – This variant is the one that affects the spine, anywhere from top to bottom, and can also affect the closest joints to it, such as the hips, arms, and legs.
  • Symmetrical Psoriatic Arthritis – This version means that the condition can be found in joints on both sides of the body symmetrically, often less severe in pain.
  • Asymmetrical Psoriatic Arthritis – It means that the joints’ inflammation is only found within joints on one side of the body. It can produce mild psoriatic arthritis symptoms in comparison to the other versions.

What Are the Causes of Psoriatic Arthritis?

Although not medically definitive, there can be many psoriatic arthritis causes, such as:

  • Family History and Genetics – Having a family history of this disease could be a factor in increasing your chances of having it too. It is one of the biggest psoriatic arthritis causes. Genetics plays a massive part in the potential pre-determination of developing it, so it may be likely that if you have a direct parent or grandparent with the condition, it is more likely to come down to you too.

  • Smoking – Smoking[3] can play a big part in the condition of joints and has been researched as being a huge contributor to the health and psoriatic arthritis causes. Smoking can also increase pain sensitivity, so if the joints are being harmed by smoking and cause lots of pain to be felt, this has the potential to develop into a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis if there is inflammation present that causes the pain.
  • Existing Psoriasis – Having an existing psoriatic arthritis diagnosis can leave you more at risk of the disease. It is the same autoimmune response that the body produces that causes psoriasis itself, which leads to psoriatic arthritis.
  • An Infection Trigger – Having an infection that puts your immune system under stress could cause psoriatic arthritis in the same way that an infection like strep throat may be a cause of psoriasis in the skin.
  • Age – Age can be a determinable factor in the prevalence of psoriatic arthritis and is usually seen in the ages between 30 and 50.
  • Accident or Injury – Having an accident or injury that leaves some damage and/or scar tissue within the structure of the joints could be responsible for the development of psoriatic arthritis symptoms.

  • Weight – Although not proven, being overweight can cause excessive wear on your joints[4] in general, and this can cause inflammation. If this inflammation becomes constant within the joints under stress, this could lead to the inflammation being a psoriatic arthritis diagnosis.

What Are the Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis?

Red, Inflamed Skin
Psoriatic arthritis symptoms are felt in different ways by different people. For some people, it can cause mild discomfort to severe pain. Here are the main symptoms of psoriatic arthritis:

  • Pain – The inflammation that is caused by this condition can be anything from mild to severe enough to require medication. The stiffness and inflammation also can reduce someone’s range of movement and general mobility.
  • Inflammation Within the Joints – The main characteristic of this condition is welling inside of the joints. Although it cannot be seen from the outside, it can certainly cause pain and redness on the inside of the affected areas.
  • Reduced Mobility and Range of Movement – When there is swelling within the body’s joints, it can reduce the person’s range of movement as there is too much swelling to move the joint further. It may also cause a considerable reduction in the person’s mobility if the pain and inflammation get too much to bear or physically cannot move their joints. This manifestation requires appropriate psoriatic arthritis treatment.
  • Red, Inflamed Skin – Another one of the psoriatic arthritis symptoms is redness. Some people who have the condition might find that they start developing red, scaly patches of skin while the pain in the joints gets more intense, which is the link between the two conditions.

  • Pitting of the Nails – This can be a good indication of psoriatic arthritis. It may appear like tiny dents on the surface of the nails[5]. This symptom can be something that is directly related to joint inflammation but can also be hereditary.

  • Eye Redness and Eye Pain – Eye redness and eye pain, commonly known as uveitis[6], can be experienced in patients with psoriatic arthritis and can range in severity to mild to extreme, and in some cases, may impede the person’s ability to see without discomfort and pain.

How Is Psoriatic Arthritis Treated?

Psoriatic Arthritis Treated
The psoriatic arthritis treatment is varied and can depend on many factors, such as the severity of the symptoms the individual experiences and the type of symptoms experienced, as it is felt differently in each individual.

Medical professionals will assess each individual according to their specific psoriatic arthritis symptoms and their severity to find out which course of treatment or therapy is best suited to their particular needs and circumstances.

Here are some of the treatments available to psoriatic arthritis sufferers:

The first point of psoriatic arthritis treatment will likely be NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen to reduce the swelling within the joints. This reduction in inflammation within the joints will also reduce the associated symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.

If the NSAIDs have limited effectiveness, the psoriatic arthritis treatment may extend to the use of DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs). These may reduce the effects of psoriatic arthritis and its associated conditions further by affecting how the disease manifests itself within the body.

Suppose a person is not suitable to take DMARDs. In that case, doctors may put them onto immunosuppressant therapy[7], which can target the root cause of the disease as they can halt the immune system’s effectiveness, which is excellent for relief of psoriatic arthritis symptoms. However, this is not an easy route as stopping the immune system can lead the person to be more susceptible to other diseases and infections.

Steroid Therapy might be necessary to reduce the pain and inflammation with the joints after the psoriatic arthritis diagnosis. Still, if the patient has skin rashes akin to psoriasis itself, the use of steroids can exacerbate these skin conditions.

Steroids may also lead the patient to suffer from weight gain, high blood pressure, and brittle bones if used over a long time, so it will be a case of weighing up the benefits vs. the potential outcomes before steroid therapy will be seen as the most appropriate psoriatic arthritis treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

When compiling this report, we noted that people were asking these questions in general about psoriatic arthritis:

People with psoriatic arthritis may have different days than those people without it. They may wake up in the morning with sore and stiff joints and may have excessive pain on exertion.

These people may have great difficulty moving around due to reduced mobility and pain from the joints, so they may have to do physical things that are limited and conduct them a bit slower than people who do not have the condition.

There is no specific diet that is recommended for psoriatic arthritis. Still, a diet that is rich in antioxidants that come from fresh vegetables and fruit may be beneficial to improve psoriatic arthritis symptoms.

Also, this lifestyle change concerning diet would mean cutting back on sugary foods and drinks, cutting out processed foods that can be high in sugar and salt, and increasing the intake of whole grains, nuts, and fish. Changing your lifestyle is one good way to avoid undergoing intensive psoriatic arthritis treatment.

Psoriatic arthritis can be incredibly painful because joints are made up in such a way that allows fluid movement of the body to perform all of the tasks of daily life.

Suppose these joints suddenly find themselves with swelling that isn't to protect an injury that pushes the joints and restricts them from moving in the way they are designed to. In that case, it will cause immense pain and discomfort from psoriatic arthritis causes.

Psoriatic arthritis can strike anywhere there is a joint within the body, so as you can see, this is everywhere! It is commonly detected in the feet and hands, back and hips, and knees and elbows. These are all crucial joints for the body, so if there is pain and inflammation experienced in these, it can seriously hinder someone’s ability to function as they wish to.

Psoriatic arthritis can happen at any age, including in children. Still, a psoriatic arthritis diagnosis will be most commonly made between the ages of 30 to 50 years old. It can develop in the ten years after a diagnosis of psoriasis[8] is made.

Conclusion

We have seen in this report that psoriatic arthritis is an auto-immune condition that affects the joints, causing inflammation of varying degrees in any joint of the body. It can cause pain, swelling and cause a person to have a reduction in movement in the affected joints.

There are different types of the condition with their characteristics but are all linked to the condition psoriasis, which causes scaly, red patches in the skin that can be sore and uncomfortable.

Medical professionals can apply many different routes of treatment to individuals, which can range from simple anti-inflammatory medicines to steroid therapy. As various people will experience this condition differently, there will be different and more appropriate actions to take according to the needs and severity of the symptoms associated with psoriatic arthritis.

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