Psoriatic Arthritis

Pictures of a patient with psoriasis (and arth...

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Many people do not think of arthritis in relation to the skin, but psoriatic arthritis is a rare condition that can attack your skin, leaving you with a common problem that many people are less than familiar with. Generally speaking, the patchy redness that can spread across the body, even the scalp, usually precedes the onset of full-blown arthritis. Though the causes of this type of arthritis are unknown, many doctors believe that it might be hereditary, not surprising because most people who get psoriasis usually run a very high risk of getting arthritis at some point in the future.

So, what are the symptoms associated with psoriatic arthritis? Well, depending on your body, your symptoms may be very mild or even get so uncomfortable that you need medical help urgently. Usually they will affect your toes’ and fingers’ ends, whereas others may find the majority of it near their joints or spine when their symptoms get very severe. If the spine is involved, symptoms can include pain, burning and stiffness, quite often within the area around the sacrum and lower spine. The skin may change and symptoms may worsen. However, general symptoms for this condition include:

  • Tenderness

  • Sores on the skin

  • Swollen joints

Usually your doctor will examine your joints and skin, as well as giving you x-rays. Your doctor might suggest varied treatments, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines

  • Arthritic disease modifying medicines

  • Inflammatory protein blocking medicines

  • Steroid injections into the joints

  • Joint damage replacement surgery (rare)

  • Exercise

  • Rest

  • Dietary changes

  • Cold and heat therapies

With this type of arthritis, most people only get mild problems affecting their joints, maybe one or a few of them. Some get it so bad that it deforms their spine, feet and hands. Episodes may diminish over time or increase, whether in the number of episodes or the severity of the symptoms. However, the only way to deal with the symptoms is to get a formal diagnosis and the first step is to speak to your family doctor who will refer you to a rheumatologist for further testing and a final diagnosis. Unfortunately, there are no cures and so anything that your doctors gets you to do for treatments will no doubt be something that you have to live with for the rest of your days.


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