Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that typically affects people with psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes itchy scaly, red patches on the skin. In most cases, psoriatic arthritis occurs after a person develops psoriasis, however, in rare cases, it can occur before skin patches show up.
Unfortunately, psoriatic arthritis is incurable, therefore it’s essential to manage its symptoms in order to prevent severe joint damage. If left untreated, psoriatic arthritis might cause disability.
Since psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune condition, its exact cause is unknown. In this condition, the immune system starts to attack healthy joints. Scientists suggest that psoriatic arthritis might occur due to genetics and some environmental factors. Also, most people who’ve got psoriatic arthritis have a family history of either psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Physical injury or some environmental factors, for instance, bacterial or viral infection, might provoke the disorder in people who are predisposed to it.
Psoriatic arthritis, as well as psoriasis, is a chronic condition that progresses over time. However, a person with either psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis might have remission that is likely to alternate with periods when symptoms become worse.
Psoriatic arthritis can damage any joint in the body, and just like rheumatoid arthritis, it can impact joints on one or both sides of the body. In fact, these two conditions have similar signs and symptoms (painful, swollen, and inflamed joints). However, psoriatic arthritis might also lead to:
Foot pain. Oftentimes, psoriatic arthritis affects the areas where tendons and ligaments attach to the bones, particularly, in the back of the heel or in the sole of the foot.
Swelling of fingers and toes. The condition can also damage the joints of the fingers and toes leading to sausage-like swelling and deformities in feet and hands.
Lower back pain. Another common area susceptible to psoriatic arthritis is the lower back. Arthritis typically leads to inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae of the spine and in the joints between the spine and pelvis.
There are certain risk factors that can contribute to psoriatic arthritis, such as:
Family history. In many cases, people who develop psoriatic arthritis have relatives with the condition.
Psoriasis. Psoriasis doubles your risk for psoriatic arthritis. In fact, people who have psoriasis patches on the nails are especially prone to psoriatic arthritis.
Age. Thought, anyone can get the diseases, it affects most often adults between the ages of 30 and 50.
As mentioned above, psoriatic arthritis is incurable, therefore treatment focuses on managing symptoms in order to prevent severe joint damage and eventually disability.
Joint replacement surgery. In the cases of severe joint damages, doctors might recommend joint replacement surgery that is aimed at replacing joints with artificial prostheses of plastic and metal.
Steroid injections. This treatment option works by easing severe inflammation quickly and is used locally. You might get injections for back pain, knee pain, and other types of pain caused by psoriatic arthritis.
There are lots of medications used for psoriatic arthritis management, such as:
TNF-alpha inhibitors. In psoriatic arthritis, the body produces tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). TNF-alpha inhibitors block these inflammatory substances and help lower pain, joint swelling, and morning stiffness. The most common TNF-alpha inhibitors include infliximab (Remicade), etanercept (Enbrel), golimumab (Simponi), and certolizumab (Cimzia). Just like any drug, this type of medication can provoke side effects. These include hair loss, nausea, increased risk for infections, and diarrhea.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They help reduce inflammation in the joints. Examples include naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others). NSAIDs can cause heart issues, kidney and liver damage, and stomach irritation.
Immunosuppressants. These drugs are aimed at reducing the overactive response of the immune system that actually causes severe joint damage. Immunosuppressants include cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune) and azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan). However, these drugs can lower the immune system and increase the risk for various infections.