Thursday, August 25, 2016

What is psoriatic arthritis?

Approximately one third of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. Early recognition is critical to relieving the pain and inflammation of psoriatic arthritis. Yet many people do not know the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis or that psoriasis can affect the joints. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, delaying treatment for psoriatic arthritis as little as six months can result in permanent joint damage. It's important to learn the symptoms and treatment options.

A couple consults with their doctor

Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis often develops slowly with mild symptoms. If you have psoriasis - an autoimmune disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin - and aches or pains in your joints that don't go away over time, schedule an appointment with your doctor to talk about psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis rarely happens to people without psoriasis. Learn more about psoriasis.

Psoriatic arthritis usually affects the distal joints (those closest to the nail) in fingers or toes but it can affect any joint. Common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include:

  • Generalized fatigue
  • Tenderness, pain and swelling over tendons
  • Swollen fingers and toes that look like sausages
  • Stiffness, pain, throbbing, swelling and tenderness in one or more joints
  • A reduced range of motion
  • Morning stiffness and tiredness
  • Nail changes—for example, the nail separates from the nail bed and/or becomes pitted and mimics fungus infections
  • Redness and pain of the eye, such as conjunctivitis

Psoriatic arthritis does not correlate to the severity of your psoriasis or psoriasis flare-ups. A person with few skin lesions can still have many joints affected by arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is characterized as mild if it affects four or fewer joints. Severe arthritis affects multiple areas of the body most commonly with inflammation of the fingers and toes but also in the spinal column and areas where ligaments or tendons insert into the bones.

Treatment options for psoriatic arthritis

Once diagnosed, the doctor will likely focus treatment on relieving pain, reducing swelling and keeping your joints working as normally as possible. The progression of your arthritis and its severity will also influence treatment. Learn more about treatment options from the National Psoriasis Foundation. 

What should you do if you think you have psoriatic arthritis?

The first step in your treatment should be a visit with your primary care doctor. Your doctor will review your health history, including a history of psoriasis, and can run the appropriate diagnostic tests. Need a primary care physician? Check with Logansport Memorial's Family Medicine office.

Learn more.

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