By Camilla M.
Psoriatic arthritis is a serious medical condition. It can happen to you. It can happen to someone you love. In the United States alone, there are at least one million documented cases of this condition. Out of every 10 people with psoriasis, three will have psoriatic arthritis. This condition is an affliction on two fronts — the skin and the joints. For this reason, it can be both disfiguring and debilitating.
May is psoriatic arthritis awareness month. During this time of the year, we owe it to ourselves and the ones we love to familiarize ourselves with this condition. Learn more about what psoriatic arthritis is and how to spot it.
What Is Psoriatic Arthritis? Psoriatic arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis. The condition manifests itself as pain along certain joints due to severe inflammation. The most commonly affected areas are the toes, fingers, and knees. It occurs as a result of skin psoriasis, a condition that leads to a skin rash and itching on the scalp and elbows.
The cause of psoriatic arthritis remains unknown to this very day. What is certain is that it manifests in roughly 30% of psoriasis cases. The prevalence is equal in both men and women. Psoriatic arthritis generally manifests during middle age (30 to 50 years old).
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis? The signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis mimic those of rheumatoid arthritis. Often, physicians give a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis after confirming the presence of skin psoriasis.First, physicians tend to look for symptoms of skin psoriasis. The symptoms of psoriasis include:
- A skin rash on the elbows and scalp
- Skin flaking
- Skin dryness on the elbows and scalp
These symptoms along with a health history confirm the presence of psoriasis. Upon confirmation, the physician can assess for signs of arthritis.
The signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include:
- Morning stiffness
- Joint pain
- Swelling on the limbs and lower back
- Small dents in nails or nail beds
- Inflamed fingers or toes
In more severe cases, the following will also be present:
- Physical deformity of the hands and feet
The signs and symptoms of psoriasis and arthritis together are the definitive indicators of psoriatic arthritis.
Is There a Cure for Psoriatic Arthritis? There is currently no known cure for this inflammatory condition. Hence, the treatment pathways for psoriatic arthritis are palliative in nature. In other words, treatments aim at reducing discomfort and symptoms.
- Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and swelling
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen
- Immunosuppressing medications or agents
Psoriatic arthritis never truly goes away. Instead, there are times of severity and remission.
Final Thoughts on Psoriatic Arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is a potentially disfiguring and debilitating condition. When you or someone you know comes down with the condition, do not hesitate or panic. Speak honestly to your doctor about your symptoms. Psoriatic arthritis may not be curable. However, it is far from being a death sentence. Even with it, you can still enjoy a high quality of life.