Introduction to Psoriatic Arthritis
If you have psoriasis, you may be at risk for another chronic condition called psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis that affects people with psoriasis. It’s a progressive disease, meaning it can get worse over time, and it can lead to joint damage and disability if left untreated.
There’s no cure for psoriatic arthritis, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. In this article, we’ll discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for psoriatic arthritis.
Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can vary from person to person. The most common symptom is pain and stiffness in the joints, although some people may also experience fatigue, swelling, and redness.
In some cases, the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis may be mild and only occur sporadically. For others, the symptoms can be more severe and chronic. In some severe cases, the joints may become deformed.
There is no one test that can definitively diagnose psoriatic arthritis. Doctors will usually start with a physical examination and a review of your medical history. They may also order blood tests or X-rays to rule out other conditions.
Causes and Risk Factors of Psoriatic Arthritis
The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown, but it is believed to be the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Psoriatic arthritis typically develops in people who have the skin condition psoriasis, which is thought to be caused by an overactive immune system. People with psoriatic arthritis are also at increased risk for developing other autoimmune conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
There are several risk factors that may increase your chances of developing psoriatic arthritis, including:
• Family history. If you have a family member with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, you are more likely to develop the condition.
• Age. Psoriatic arthritis can occur at any age, but it is most common in adults between the ages of 30 and 50.
• Gender. Psoriatic arthritis is more common in men than women.
• Obesity. People who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for developing psoriatic arthritis.
Diagnosing Psoriatic Arthritis
To diagnose psoriatic arthritis, your doctor will likely start with a physical exam and review of your medical history. They may also order blood tests and imaging tests to rule out other conditions.
If you have psoriasis, your doctor may suspect you have psoriatic arthritis if you have joint pain or swelling. They will then likely order blood tests to look for markers of inflammation, such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Imaging tests, such as x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may also be ordered to check for damage to the joints.
Treatment Options for Psoriatic Arthritis
There are a number of different treatment options available for psoriatic arthritis, and the best course of action will vary from person to person. In general, treatments aim to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and prevent further damage to the joints.
Common treatment options include medication, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, and surgery. Medications used to treat psoriatic arthritis include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biological agents, and corticosteroids.
Lifestyle changes that can help manage psoriatic arthritis include exercise, stress reduction, and healthy eating. Physical therapy can help improve the range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the affected joints. Surgery may be an option for some people with severe joint damage.
Coping with Psoriatic Arthritis
If you’re living with psoriatic arthritis, you’re probably all too familiar with the challenges it can bring. The good news is that there are many ways to cope with the condition and its symptoms. Here are a few suggestions:
- Learn as much as you can about psoriatic arthritis. The more you know about your condition, the better equipped you’ll be to manage it.
- Stay active and exercise regularly. Exercise can help reduce pain and stiffness, and improve your overall well-being.
- Manage your stress levels. Stress can make psoriatic arthritis symptoms worse, so find healthy ways to relax and de-stress (such as yoga or meditation).
- Eat a healthy diet. A nutritious diet can help reduce inflammation and ease symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.
- Get enough rest and sleep. When you’re well-rested, you’ll have more energy to deal with the challenges of living with psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can cause pain and swelling in the joints, as well as other symptoms. It is important to understand what causes it and how it can be managed with proper treatment. With the right diagnosis and care, those living with psoriatic arthritis can experience improved quality of life and manage their pain effectively. If you think that you may have psoriatic arthritis, speak to your doctor about the best course of action for your health.