Facts about psoriatic arthritis.
The Phil Mickelson psoriatic arthritis commercials have drawn a significant amount of attention to this problem. This is a type of arthritis that is most commonly associated with and occurs in conjunction with psoriasis of the skin.
Psoriasis is believed to be an inherited skin condition that affects many individuals. But psoriatic arthritis usually lies dormant until about ten years following a psoriasis attack. It has no boundaries as far as age an whom it affects.
But, did you know that psoriatic arthritis is most commonly associated with people between the ages 15 to 35?
And, as of this article the cause is still undetermined but research does point to inherited genes. Scales, which appear as areas of thick, red and irritated flaky skin affect about two percent of the US population. They can also appear as silver-white patches.
Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
This type of arthritis has a variety of both symptoms and severity. It could be considered a mild case and only affect a few joints in the fingers or toes region.
Or, it could be a severe case impacting the spine. The symptoms of spinal involvement includes stiffness, burning, and pain most often located in the lower spine and sacrum regions.
Have you ever noticed individuals with that have cracked or changes in their fingernails?
Chances are they may be in the initial stages of this problem and the skin (epidermis) will only get worse as will the arthritis.
Types of Psoriatic Arthritis There are five types of psoriatic arthritis:
- Symmetric arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have many of the same traits. Joint swelling, pain and stiffness are usually present but you normally don’t see any severe deformity. This type of arthritis normally is involves the same joints on both sides of the body. This is why it’s termed symmetric. It is also classified a disabling condition.
- Asymmetric arthritis is the opposite of symmetric arthritis in that is may incorporate a few or many joints at locations all over the human body. Any joint can be affected like the knee, hip, ankle or wrist. Have you ever noticed the people with swelling on the fingers or toes, this is symptomatic of a condition called dactylitis? Their characterized by joints that are warm, tender and red. The pain will usually come and go and the good news is that this condition responds to medical therapy.
- Distal interphalangeal predominant (DIP) is a rare condition manifesting itself in about 5 percent of people that live with the disease. The distal joints are involved with distal meaning those joints closest to the nail. Some signs of this condition include pitting, discoloration, white areas, crumbling or detachment are usually prominent.
- Spondylitis involves inflammation of the spinal column. This condition occurs in approximately 5 percent of people having psoriatic arthritis. It’s characteristics include inflammation in the neck, lower back, sacroiliac or spinal vertebrae regions. Many individual complain about ambulation problems. Because this can also be classified as a peripheral disease, it can be present in the hands, arms, hips, legs and feet.
- Arthritis mutilans is extremely severe and results in deformation of the small joints of the hands and feet. People have also experienced problems in the spinal area.
Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosis
During a physical exam, the health care provider will look for:
Skin patches (psoriasis) and pitting in the nails
Joint x-rays may be done.
Treatment for Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis treatment can involve the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to alleviate pain and inflammation of the joints.
If the case is severe in nature, more powerful drugs referred to as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as:
New medications that block an inflammatory protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) are becoming the treatment of choice for psoriatic arthritis. These include:
- Adalimumab (Humira)
- Etanercept (Enbrel)
- Golimumab (Simponi)
- Infliximab (Remicade)
Occasionally, very painful joints may be injected with steroid medications.
In rare cases, patients need surgery to repair or replace damaged joints.
Your doctor may suggest a healthy mix of rest and exercise. Physical therapy may help increase the movement of specific joints. You may also use heat and cold therapy.
Psoriatic Arthritis Prognosis
The disease is often mild and affects only a few joints. A few people will have severe psoriatic arthritis in their hands, feet, and spine that causes deformities.
In people with severe arthritis, treatment can still relieve pain and prevent joint destruction, especially if it is started early.