Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of skin as well as joints. Psoriasis ischronic inflammation of skin.10-30% of people suffering from psoriasis may develop associated inflammation of the joints. Patients exhibiting inflammatory arthritis as well as psoriasis are diagnosed as having psoriatic arthritis.
The Diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis
The diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis is made difficult by the fact that there is no fixed rule as to its onset. In most cases, the symptoms of psoriasis appear first, followed by arthritis. However it is not rare for the arthritis symptoms to be manifested first. In this type of arthritis, the joints affected include the tips of fingers and toes, feet and elbows and most commonly the lower spine.
Psoriatic arthritis is a systemic rheumatic disease, where the inflammation is not restricted to only the joints and the skin. It can spread across the system to other organs like the eyes, lungs, heart and kidneys.
Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms
Psoriatic arthritis symptoms include swelling and pain in the inflamed joints such as the hands and feet, giving them a swollen appearance. Because of spinal inflammation, you often experience stiffness as well as burning lower back pain and buttock pain.
Inflammation of tendons in the heel (called Achilles tendonitis) commonly occurs in psoriatic arthritis, making it extremely painful to walk or climb stairs. Inflammation of lungs and heart can occur, causing shortness of breath. Acne and nail changes occur in 80% of patients.
In fact nail changes occur rarely in patients diagnosed with only psoriasis. So it may be considered as a fairly good indicator of existence of psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment
Psoriatic arthritis treatment is currently restricted to managing the symptoms and improving the quality of life as the specific cause for the condition remains unknown. Research indicates that there is a strong genetic basis for the incidence of psoriatic arthritis.
To relieve pain and inflammation, NSAIDs are prescribed. Severe inflammation in the eye or the chest requires corticosteroid injection in the affected area to prevent long term damage or a life threatening condition. The use of immune suppressants and DMARDs (Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drugs) are recommended in psoriatic arthritis treatment as they tackle systemic inflammation and relieve symptoms of both psoriasis and arthritis.
TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) inhibitors that work by inhibiting synthesis of proteins that cause inflammation are now being used in psoriatic arthritis. All these medications have potentially significant side effects on long term use and should be taken only after consulting your doctor.
The benefits of exercise for improving flexibility of joints cannot be overstated. Exercise regularly to keep the pain of psoriatic arthritis under check. And exercise helps you feel good too.