Psoriatic arthritis is a debilitating health condition that affects certain people who have psoriasis, a chronic skin disease that is characterized by the development of dry, and red skin patches and scales. It is classified as a type of inflammatory arthritis. Like arthritis, it causes joint pain and inflammation, and stiff joints.
The condition can affect any part of the body, and it usually develops between the age of 30 to 50 years. However, it can affect individuals of all age group. On an average, psoriatic arthritis can take about 10 years to develop from the time of observing the signs of psoriasis for the first time. It is possible to manage the symptoms of this condition and prevent joint damage. But presently, there is no cure for this condition.
Causes and Symptoms
Both psoriasis and arthritis are associated with abnormal immune response, which can cause joint inflammation, as well as an excessive production of skin cells. The reason behind such abnormal immune response is not known with certainty. However, both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play an important role in the development of this inflammatory condition. Having psoriasis, a family history of psoriatic arthritis, and a high level of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) are considered as some of the risk factors for this condition.
Swollen and painful joints, morning stiffness, and joints that are tender and warm to touch are the usual symptoms of this condition. This condition can affect the fingers and the toes, and cause swelling of the digits. The swollen fingers and toes can look like sausages. The development of lesions, pitting of the nails, and thickening and discoloration of the nails are some other signs and symptoms of this condition. Psoriatic arthritis can affect the joints of one or both sides of the body. It can also cause tendinitis, and affect the spine to cause spondylitis. At times, this condition can cause inflammation of the eyes, lungs, and the aorta as well.
Diagnosis and Treatment
This condition is usually detected by evaluating the symptoms, and performing some diagnostic procedures like X-ray, joint fluid test, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and the test to detect rheumatoid factor (RF). Physicians basically aim at alleviating the symptoms of the condition while preventing further damage to the joints. For this purpose, they can employ both medications and physical therapy. The medications that are usually used for the treatment of this condition are, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac, and naproxen.
Corticosteroids are also used to reduce the joint pain and inflammation. Another class of drugs used for treating this inflammatory condition are known as 'disease modifying antirheumatic drugs'. These drugs help limit the damage to the joints. Immunosuppressant medications on the other hand, are used to suppress the immune system to control or manage this condition.
Apart from these, 'tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors' are employed for the treatment of severe psoriatic arthritis. The side effects associated with some of these medications can be quite serious. If all these treatment options fail to provide relief, then physicians can recommend joint operation.
Along with medications, a number of supplements, such as methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) supplements, fish oil supplements, and glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are used for this condition. In addition to these, exercises, physical therapy, dietary changes, and the application of ice and hot packs can also provide some relief. Exercises are extremely important for strengthening the muscles around the joints, which can help control the symptoms of arthritic conditions.
Similarly, dietary changes, such as the inclusion of more fresh fruits, vegetables, and food rich in zinc, omega-3 essential fatty acids, and carotenoids in the diet may prove beneficial. At the same time, it is important to identify and avoid the food that can trigger inflammatory reactions in some patients. Herbs that are believed to be helpful in psoriatic arthritis are, celery seeds, black cohosh, nettles, saffron, feverfew, bogbean, evening primrose, and turmeric. However, before using any herbs for treating this inflammatory condition, it is advisable to talk to your physician or health care provider.
For the effective management of this condition, you should talk to your physician. This would help find out the severity of the condition, and the measures that can be taken to slow down its progression.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.