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Psoriatic arthritis, or PsA, is a particular type of arthritis (joint inflammation) that develops in individuals with psoriasis, a skin condition that causes painful, itchy, and flaky skin rashes. Psoriatic arthritis can occur in any joint in the body. 30-50% of the 7.5 million Americans with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis, and even fewer will develop severe forms of the condition.
Psoriatic arthritis is categorized by the location and severity of inflammation. There are five main types:
Cases of psoriatic arthritis can be mild or severe.
Psoriatic arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system malfunctions and launches an immune response against healthy tissues in the joints. This is a continuation of the immune response launched against the skin in cases of psoriasis. Though there is currently no known cause for this immune system malfunction, leading research suggests that the cause is a mixture of environmental and genetic factors. Most recently, researchers at the University of Manchester found that the prevalence of psoriatic arthritis is closely associated to the KIR2DL1 or KIR2DL2/3 genes, opening up the door for further research on genetic causes of psoriatic arthritis.
The following factors may affect your risk of psoriatic arthritis:
Because of its shared symptoms with other conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout, psoriatic arthritis is often difficult to diagnose. A diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis will most likely depend on a combination of the following:
In the majority (85%) of psoriatic arthritis patients, symptoms of psoriasis (skin rashes, itching, flaking) develop before joint inflammation. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, the following may be signs of psoriatic arthritis:
The prognosis for psoriatic arthritis varies depends on several factors:
Though there is always a risk of progression with psoriatic arthritis, there are many treatments available to help lessen the effects of the condition and discourage progression. Because these treatments are most effective when the condition is in its earliest phase, it is essential that you visit your doctor for regular check-ups and report any observed symptoms.
A diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to make you miss out on life. The following are tips to help you live well with psoriatic arthritis:
While there is no universal screening recommendation specifically for psoriatic arthritis, it is recommended that patients with psoriasis be checked regularly for arthritis-like symptoms.
Be sure to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor. These should catch any early symptoms of either psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
There is no known way to prevent psoriatic arthritis. However, there are several things that you can do to help decrease the chance of disease progression or development of related conditions. These include:
There are a variety of different treatment options available for people with psoriatic arthritis that can help lessen symptoms and prevent disease progression. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, the majority of psoriatic arthritis treatment methods fall into two categories:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs are perhaps the most widely known form of psoriatic arthritis treatment, and include familiar painkillers such as aspirin. NSAIDs function by decreasing overall levels of inflammation in the body, thereby lessening pain and swelling in the joints. NSAIDS are available as over-the-counter medicine or in more powerful prescription doses. Popular NSAIDs used in the treatment of psoriatic arthritis include:
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). This is a broad class of drugs that both work to relieve pain and slow the progression of joint damage. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, the following are the most commonly prescribed DMARDs:
There is significant evidence, both clinical and anecdotal, that suggests that alternative/complementary modes of treatment can be effective in the treatment of psoriatic arthritis. Popular forms of alternative and complementary therapies include:
Some alternative and complementary therapies interact dangerously with certain medications. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new treatment regimen
If you are caring for a loved one with psoriatic arthritis, consider the following:
Mild joint pain can be a normal part of aging. However, if your joint pain becomes disruptive to daily life or is accompanied by skin rashes, itching, or flaking, you should contact your doctor and ask about psoriatic arthritis.
If you are currently undergoing treatment for psoriatic arthritis and experience any of the following, contact your doctor:
** This may be a sign of a heart attack in combination with shortness of breath, chest pain, and numbness. Call 911 immediately
To find a doctor near you, visit www.healthgrades.com.
To find an arthritis specialist, visit The American College of Rheumatology
To find a dermatologist, visit The American Academy of Dermatology
You may want to ask your doctor the following questions:
For more information on psoriatic arthritis, visit:
For more information on psoriasis, visit:
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