Psoriatic Arthritis

A chronic condition in which the body’s immune system goes awry. Rather than battling foreign germs, it instead attacks the joints.

About 30% of people who have psoriasis (a skin disease that causes itchy rashes) also develop a form of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis (PsA).

Unlike other forms of arthritis, men and women are at equal risk for developing this condition. It causes joint pain and swelling that can lead to joint damage if not controlled over time. Most people with PsA have skin symptoms before joint symptoms. However, some people get PsA without any changes to the skin, and some people develop rashes after the arthritis. Severe skin psoriasis does not necessarily indicate a stronger possibility of developing arthritis.

PsA occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks joints and skin. This triggers joint pain, stiffness and swelling. The disease can lay dormant in the body until it is triggered by an outside influence, such an infection. The inflammation from PsA can affect the entire body and may lead to permanent joint and tissue damage if it is not treated early and aggressively. PsA can affect any joint. It can also cause tenderness where tendons and ligaments join the bones. This condition, called enthesitis, can result in pain at the back of the heel, the sole of the foot, around the elbows or in other areas. Enthesitis is one of the characteristic features of PsA.

Fortunately, treatments are available and effective for most people. A diagnosis is typically made after the physician reviews your medical history and performs a physical exam. They’ll look for swollen and painful joints, certain patterns of arthritis, and skin and nail changes typical of psoriasis. X-rays are sometimes taken to look for joint damage. Other scans can be used to look at the joints in more detail. Blood tests may be done to rule out other types of arthritis, but they can’t indicate for sure if you have PsA.

Swelling in part of the eye occurs in some people who have PsA. Some people also experience mood changes. Treating the arthritis and reducing the levels of inflammation helps with these problems. People with psoriasis are slightly more at risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity or diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight and treating high blood pressure and cholesterol are important aspects of treatment.

Psoriatic arthritis is easy to confuse with other diseases. Our rheumatologists are expertly trained to identify and treat PsA, and can help you with a proper diagnosis. They can advise patients about the best treatment options to improve their overall well-being and long-term health. Make an appointment with our physicians today to find out all your options.

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