Article by Shane Armfield
What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Image source: http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org;
Psoriatic arthritis causes painful inflammation in and around your joints. It usually affects people who already have psoriasis, a skin condition that causes a red, scaly rash, especially on your elbows, knees, back, buttocks and scalp.
However, some people develop the arthritic symptoms before the psoriasis, while others will never develop the skin condition.
Your joint hurts for two reasons:
When the inflammation goes down, the capsule remains stretched and can’t hold your joint in its proper position. This can make your joint unstable and painful.
What are the Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis?
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can include:
What Causes Psoriatic Arthritis
We don’t yet know exactly what triggers the inflammation, although a particular combination of genes and infection makes some people more likely to develop psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. No specific infection has yet been found. Sometimes the arthritis can follow an accident or injury, particularly if it affects a single joint. People who are overweight are more susceptible to both psoriasis and the arthritis associated with this.
How is Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosed?
Due to the variety of symptoms experienced by patients, diagnosing Psoriatic Arthritis can be complex. Doctors will confirm the diagnosis based on your symptoms, a physical examination and the results of x-rays, scans and blood tests. You may also be referred to a specialist (Rheumatologist) to confirm the diagnosis and receive treatment.
Blood tests in this case are used to measure inflammation. You may have one of these tests:
Both of these may show a high value when inflammation is present. These tests may be repeated from time to time to help monitor your arthritis.
Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment
Your Doctor or Rheumatologist will use a combination of skin treatments and medication to treat your condition. The medications prescribed will depend on the severity of your symptoms.
Treatments for your Skin
Your skin will usually be treated with a variety of ointments. These may vary from tar-based ointments, dithranol based ointment, steroid-based creams,vitamin D-like ointments and vitamin A-like (retinoid) gels such as tazarotene
If the creams and ointments don’t help your psoriasis, your doctor may suggest light therapy or retinoid tablets.
Many of the DMARDs used for psoriatic arthritis will also help your skin condition. Similarly, some of the treatments for your skin may help your arthritis.
Medication and Drugs
The three main groups of drugs used to treat the pain and inflammation caused by Psoriatic Arthritis are:
Your doctor or rheumatology specialist is the best person to discuss these drugs with and will manage the use of these medications carefully.
Physical Therapies for Psoriatic Arthritis
Looking after your joints and managing your symptoms is very important in the treatment of Psoriatic Arthritis. Your physiotherapist can suggest a number of different treatments that may help ease your symptoms and reduce the impact Psoriatic Arthritis can have on your life.
The following treatments have been shown to help patients with Psoriatic Arthritis.
Surgery is occasionally needed for Psoriatic Arthritis. These may include injections, tendon surgery or in the extreme cases joint replacement. Outcomes for these procedures are successful.
What Can You Do For Yourself?
Understand Your Condition and How it Affects You
“Knowledge is power”. Educating yourself on the condition will help you manage your inflammation better and empower you when you talk to others (Rheumatologist,
GP, family etc) about your condition.
Understanding how your behaviour and activities influence your symptoms can help you reduce the pain and suffering caused by Psoriatic Arthritis. Speaking
to a health professional can help you identify aspects of your life that may be aggravating your Psoriatic Arthritis and help address them.
Keep Moving with Respect to Pain and Swelling
Aids and Equipment
Heat and Ice Therapy
Treat Your Muscles
For more advice, please ask your Physiotherapist, Doctor or Rheumatologist.
If you have any concerns or have some specific questions regarding your condition, please ask your physiotherapist.
Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment Options
Psoriatic Arthritis Products
Heat packs are often a wonderful way of easing away stiffness and pain associated with Psoriatic Arthritis.
General Arthritis Information
Rheumatoid Conditions - Overview
Osteoarthritis - Overview
FAQs about Psoriatic Arthritis
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