Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease. This disease mostly affects patients that has psoriasis. Psoriasis is a condition in which the skin of persons affected has red patches of skin. The skin also has silvery scales on it. A large number of people affected with psoriasis have a high risk of also developing psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease — a condition in which the immune system attacks a group of healthy tissues in the body. The classical characteristics of this disease include the swelling of the fingers, toes: other signs and symptoms patients present with include the thickening of the nails, and psoriatic symptoms such as redness of the skin, silver scaly plaques on the skin and so on. Patients would also present with the stiffness, warmness of the joint. The exact cause of the disease is not known. However, genetics have been identified to play a significant role in the development of the disease.
Other factors that might contribute to the development of the disease include obesity. Physicians diagnose this disease by evaluating the signs and symptoms presented by the patient. Although there is no definitive test to diagnose this disease, doctors might also perform imaging tests, such as X-ray, MRI, and blood tests on the patient. Fluid samples from the joints can also be taken, to check for the presence of uric acid crystals. This would help the physician in excluding other diseases.
Psoriatic arthritis has no cure. The goal of the treatment is to improve the symptom of the disease, prevent joint pain and disability. Some of the medications used include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressant and so on.
What Are The Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis develops after the onset of psoriasis. However, this doesn’t happen in all cases. Some patients develop joint pain and stiffness, before manifesting any changes on their skin. Below are some of the warning signs and symptoms that might indicate that an individual has psoriatic arthritis;
- Joint pain: This is one of the early symptoms an affected person would notice. The patient would experience pain and stiffness of the joint. This might occur in just one or several joints. Some of the common places this occurs include the knee, ankle joints. Other places include the lower part of the back, the toes, fingers and so on. This pain is usually intermittent. The period the pain subsides is known as remission, while it’s referred to as “flare up” when it worsens.
- Warmness and Swelling of the joint: This is also one of the early sign and symptom of the disease. The affected joint becomes swollen and becomes warm when touched.
- Lower back pain: This occurs due to the swelling of the joints of the back. In severe cases, the sacroiliac joints of the pelvis might fuse together. The condition in which there is the swelling of the spine is known as spondylitis.
- Eye symptoms: People affected with psoriatic arthritis might also experience the inflammation of their eyes. Typically, their eyes become red, and might also be associated with symptoms such as pain, irritation and so on. This disease can also cause a deterioration of eyesight.
- Changes in the fingers and toes: Persons affected with this disease might also present with the inflammation of their fingers and toes. They might even have a sausage-like appearance. This condition is known as dactylitis.
- The defect of the nails: The nails of those affected with this disease usually becomes pitted. The nails develop bumps or it, or becomes dented. Studies have shown that those with pitted nails have a high risk of developing psoriatic arthritis.
- Onycholysis: This is a condition in which the nails become separated from the nail bed. This might also be associated with the pitting of the nails.
- Weakness: Patients affected with this disease do present with tiredness and fatigue. This symptom is general in people affected with this disease.
- Reduced movement: This is one of the common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Patients find it difficult moving the affected joints. Some of the movements patients would find difficult executing include bending their knees, extending their arms, and also difficulty making use of their fingers.
It’s important to know that not every psoriatic patient, would eventually develop psoriatic arthritis. However, it’s best to treat psoriasis as soon as it’s diagnosed. You should consult your physician if you notice any of the above symptoms.
What Are the Causes Of Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the healthy tissues of the body. In this case, the immune cells attack the joint tissues, causing inflammation. They also cause excess production of skin cells. The exact reason behind this isn’t known yet. However, genetics and some environmental factors have been identified to contribute to this development. Studies have also shown that infections such as viral or bacterial can also lead to the development of the disease.
What Are the Risk Factors of Psoriatic Arthritis?
Below are some of the factors that could lead to the development of psoriatic arthritis;
- Age: Psoriatic arthritis can develop in anyone, regardless of the age. However, it is more common in people between the ages of 30 and 50
- Psoriasis: As earlier mentioned, the majority of those affected with psoriatic arthritis, initially developed psoriasis.
- Family history: A good number of people affected with this disease do have a family history of the disease.
How Is Psoriatic Arthritis Currently Treated?
Since the pathogenesis of this disease is mostly due to inflammation, treatment methods are usually focused on reducing and controlling inflammation. Below are some of the medications used in the treatment of this disease;
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Examples of drugs are aspirin, ibuprofen and so on. The function of the medication is to reduce or eliminate the abnormal inflammatory process. It also relieves pain and makes the life of the patients more comfortable.
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs: These medications function by reducing the progression of the disease. In addition to this, they also protect the joints from damage, due to inflammation.
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