Psoriatic Arthritis: Types, Symptoms, Treatment

Overview

Psoriatic arthritis is chronic inflammatory arthritis that occurs in some patients with psoriasis, but it can occur in people without psoriasis too. Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes a red, scaly rash. Most people develop psoriasis first and are later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, but the joint problems can sometimes begin before skin lesions appear.

In America, nearly 7.5 million have psoriasis, and about 30% of them would develop psoriatic arthritis. The symptoms of the disease can be mild or severe. Psoriatic arthritis can start at any age, but often appears between 30 and 50 years old. Men and women are at equal risk of developing the condition.

Types

There are five types of psoriatic arthritis. It is important to know which type of psoriatic arthritis you have so that it can be treated properly. These five types are:

  • Symmetric psoriatic arthritis

Symmetric means it affects joints on both sides of the body at the same time. This type of arthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Asymmetric psoriatic arthritis

This is often a mild type of psoriatic arthritis. It’s called asymmetric because it doesn’t appear in the same joints on both sides of the body.

  • Distal psoriatic arthritis

This type causes inflammation and stiffness near the ends of the fingers and toes, along with changes in toenails and fingernails.

  • Spondylitis

This refers to pain and stiffness in the spine and neck.

  • Arthritis mutilans

This type is considered the most severe form of psoriatic arthritis. It can cause deformities in the small joints at the ends of the fingers and toes, or even destroy them almost completely.

Causes

The cause of psoriatic arthritis is currently unclear. Your immune system attacks your joints and skin unreasonably. Experts believe that a combination of factors play a role in the development of the disease. These risk factors include:

  • Gene

Psoriatic arthritis runs in families. About 40% of people with psoriatic arthritis have one or more relatives with the disease.

  • Age

Although anyone can develop psoriatic arthritis, it occurs most often in adults between the ages of 30 and 50.

  • Environment

Factors in the environment may trigger the disease for those with a tendency to have psoriatic arthritis, including virus, extreme stress, or an injury.

  • Psoriasis

About 30% of people with psoriasis would develop psoriatic arthritis.

Symptoms

Joint pain and stiffness are the typical symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Swelling and tenderness in joints
  • Swollen fingers and toes
  • Painful muscles and tendons
  • Scaly skin patches
  • Fatigue
  • Nail fitting
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Eye pain or redness

Diagnosis

Diagnosing psoriatic arthritis can be difficult because its symptoms frequently resemble those of other types of inflammatory arthritis.

First, your doctor may check your family and medical history and do a physical exam. During the exam, your doctor will closely examine your joints, check your fingernails and press on the soles of your feet to look for signs and symptoms typical of psoriatic arthritis.

As for tests, there is no single test that can confirm the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. But some tests can rule out other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Imaging tests, including X-rays and MRI, can help pinpoint changes in the joints by producing detailed images of tissues in your body.

Lab tests that can help with the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis include:

RF is an antibody that’s often present in the blood of people with rheumatoid arthritis, but it’s not usually in the blood of people with psoriatic arthritis. So, this test can help your doctor rule out rheumatoid arthritis.

Your doctor can remove a small sample of fluid from one of your affected joints using a needle. Uric acid crystals in your joint fluid may indicate that you have gout rather than psoriatic arthritis.

Treatment

There exists no cure for psoriatic arthritis. Treatment options now are focused on controlling inflammation in your affected joints to prevent joint pain and disability. Treatment varies based on the level and area of pain, swelling and stiffness. General treatment choices involve medications and surgery.

Medications that may work in treating psoriatic arthritis include:

Surgical procedures that can be used to treat psoriatic arthritis include:

  • Steroid injections

This type of medication reduces inflammation quickly and is sometimes injected into an affected joint.

  • Joint replacement surgery

Joints that have been severely damaged by psoriatic arthritis can be replaced with artificial prostheses made of metal and plastic.

Regarding lifestyle, you should take care of your joints in daily life and maintain a healthy weight by proper diet and regular exercise.


Keyword: psoriatic arthritis.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.