Statistics have shown that 30% of population who suffered from psoriasis have ended up with psoriatic arthritis. Now the question arises is that what is psoriatic arthritis? This article will help you understand this arthritic condition, what are the main causes, what are the signs and symptoms as well as the possible treatments that will help the sufferers to live a better life. Living with psoriatic arthritis is in fact not that difficult as long as you learn how to cope with this disease effectively and efficiently.
What Causes Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is also known as arthritis psoriatica, psoriatic arthropathy or arthropathic psoriasis. The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is yet unknown. It is a condition which triggers body’s immune response. Two probable causes of this infection are listed below:
- Psoriasis: In this skin disorder the skin gets pink rashes followed by scaly appearance. In response to this condition body’s immune response attacks the skin ultimately affecting the joints.
- Heredity: Many sufferers of psoriatic arthritis have asserted that some members of their family have also been plagued by the same condition. Therefore genetic constitution of an individual may also result in this condition.
Both male and females are equally affected by psoriatic arthritis and usually men and women of the age group above 50 are affected. This skin and joint disease occurs separately though. 80% of patients report psoriasis followed by psoriatic arthritis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Psoriatic Arthritis?
The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis resemble that of rheumatoid arthritis. Like rheumatoid arthritis its symptoms appear with an on-and-off pattern. Sometimes the symptoms get elevated and sometimes they do not appear for a long time period. Some of the commonly observed symptoms are:
- Pain and stiffness followed by swelling.
- Burning sensation on and around the joint.
- Detachment of nails from nail bed or nail deformation.
- Inflammation in joints and tendons causing (dactylitis) inflammation of fingers and thumbs, stiff back and stiff neck (spondylitis) pain, swelling in your heel and pain in other areas such as knee and hip bone.
- Psoriatic arthritis also affects other parts of body such as causing inflammation of eyes such as conjivitis and also heart problems. None of the reports show any significant affect to kidney, liver or lung up to date.
What Are The Types Of Psoriatic Arthritis?
Different types of psoriatic arthritis have been found among patients which have different effects on the joints. In order to treat your psoriatic arthritis you should be able to identify the type in order to manage it more efficiently.
- Symmetric arthritis: It affects the same joint on both sides of the body, similarly like in rheumatoid arthritis. The right and left knees or the right and left wrist are the common sites for this type of arthritis.
- Asymmetric arthritis: This type of arthritis does not affect same joints on both sides of body for instance if wrist of right hand is affected then wrist of left hand will not be affected. Some of the areas which get affected are ankle, wrist and hip joints.
- Spondylitis: Inflammation of spinal cord is known as spondylitis. It causes stiffness of neck, thoracic, pelvic and hip region. Around 5% of people suffering from psoriatic arthritis also suffer from spondylitis.
- Arthritis mutilans: Less than 5 percent patients of psoriatic arthritis are affected by this type of psoriatic arthritis. It causes severe deformity of small joints such as fingers, ankle and wrist.
- Distal interphalangeal predominant: This type affects the joints of fingers and toes associated closer to the nail and also results in nail deformity.
Diagnosing Psoriatic Arthritis
Diagnosing psoriatic arthritis is based on the following clinical grounds:
- Sedimentation: It is a technique in which blood sample is whirled in a rotating device and blood components of different densities can get separated. Therefore, any abnormality in the inflamed joint can be detected through this method.
- RH factor: Due to resemblance of symptoms in psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis, blood tests are performed to rule out the other possible disease like rheumatoid arthritis.
- X-rays: Physical examination and joint X-ray helps to trace the particular pattern of deformity which occurs repeatedly in psoriatic arthritis.
- Aspiration: It is a diagnostic procedure in which small amount of synovial (joint fluid) is withdrawn with the help of a sterile needle and lab analyses may reveal the exact cause of deformity. This technique is also named as arthrocentesis.
Although a very particular blood test is not yet devised but physical examination and other above mentioned procedures are usually adopted by a doctor to diagnose your condition.
What Are The Treatments For Psoriatic Arthritis?
In order to cure psoriatic arthritis, a team of medical professionals including a doctor, physiotherapist and occupational therapist is required. Physiotherapist and occupational therapist train you to perform your routine activities effectively and assist you by providing certain helping tools that prevent further joint damage.
In psoriatic arthritis your doctor will prescribe you certain medications but you should do regular visits to your doctor because the dosage and sometimes even medicines are kept under constant observations and are altered if complained by patient. Some of the possible drug type that is prescribed to a patient is:
- NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug): These drugs are given to reduce the body inflammatory response which helps to reduce pain and stiffness over the joint. Unfortunately, this type of drug affects the stomach lining and is also responsible for increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Its harmful affects if monitored and altered whenever needed may help reduce the symptoms of disease and on the other hand does not cause any significant side effects. Over 20 different types of NSAIDs are present such as naproxen, ibuprofen and diclofenac.
- DMARDs (disease modifying anti rheumatic drugs): These drugs are considered as a second treatment option because they prevent any further joint damage. The cause of not preferring it over NSAIDs is that this drug affects slowly and may take months to affect your joints. Some of the commonly used DMARDs include methotraxate and sulfasalazine.
- Steroids: Steroids can be sometimes used to treat inflammation. This can be done by injecting steroids in a particular joint or tendon to reduce inflammation.
- Other treatments: Other treatments are administering injection. In extreme cases of joint damage, the patients are subjected to surgery in which joint replacement surgeries are performed. Surgeries help in relieving pain and prevent joint dis-figuration.
How Does Psoriatic Arthritis Progresses?
Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic infection since it persists for a longer period of time and can be suppressed but not treated permanently. The progression of disease depends on the symptoms but psoriatic arthritis is a replacing disease whereby its symptoms appear on and off and its extent can be determined by medical examination. The symptoms can be suppressed and improved by proper medication and possible remedies.
Possible Remedies To Improve Your Life with Psoriatic Arthritis
Living your life with psoriatic arthritis might be challenging but it is not that painful if you manage it well. The major cause of concern is that how to live ‘well’ with psoriatic arthritis. Some of the tips that help you live a normal life are stated below:
- Exercise – Exercise is the most important aspect in everyone lifestyle. However, for an arthritis patient, proper balance between rest and exercise is highly essential. Due to severe joint pain and limited mobility, your muscle tone weakens and with time, the drastic effect of arthritis will make your muscles less elastic. However, with proper, timely and accurate exercise, you not only feel active and fresh but you are also preventing your muscles from degeneration. Under the supervision of a physiotherapist, you should follow a healthy exercise regime regularly.
- Swimming – Some people with psoriatic arthritis experience difficulty in movement if their foot joints are affected. If you are among them, then the best treatment for you is swimming for it helps in muscle movement without causing excessive stress on your joints.
- Working with a physical therapist – A physical therapist will help you in keeping joint movement smooth without causing further damage to your joints. Your physical therapist will assess the type of pain and will guide you on the best way to move that particular joint. With the correct technique, it helps in relieving stiffness of your joints and thus promoting smooth joint movements.
- Other exercises – The most relaxing methods that will overcome your stress for this disease include meditation and yoga. A peace of mind is the best way to live happily even if you are in pain and certain yoga moves helps in reducing the sharp radiating pain.
- Managing diet – Your diet must be balanced and taken precisely because obesity causes more pressure exertion over the joints. Especially in the case of an arthritic patient, extra weight further restricts their mobility. Obesity also increases chances of heart attack and NSAIDs also have this side affect. Therefore, proper check and balance of diet prevents other diseases as well. One should incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables in their daily diet for they reduce the chances of heart attack.
- Manage yourself – Managing routine activities with psoriatic arthritis are indeed hectic. In order to live your life well, you have to manage it and divide your daily tasks in a less tiring manner. Therefore, it is recommended to take out time for your exercise and visit your doctor as scheduled.
- Use cold and hot packs – Hot packs can be applied over the inflamed area because it helps in alleviating pain temporarily. Cold packs can also be used because they cause numb sensation over the affected joint which results in temporary insensitivity to pain.
- Complementary medicine – It is a term used for therapies and other techniques which works along with conventional medication. This can be achieved by having a therapist who will guide you and help you to cater your disease.
- Acupuncture – It is an ancient method of removing pain by inserting pins and needles in to your body. Many patients suffering from psoriatic arthritis go for this technique along with their usual medications and find it more effective in releasing pain.
- Make your work place comfortable – Person with psoriatic arthritis must have a comfortable working environment. The sitting posture should be correct and if one has to use a computer, then the keyboard should be placed properly to avoid wrist ache and pain in other joints of hands. The working place should be equipped with drawers that require less effort to open and one heavy file should be replaced with easy-to-carry light weight files.
- Get equipped -Replace all the usual household usage things with easy to use tools. For instance, use easy can openers rather than hand lids. You should replace home drawers with open basket and use light weight cushions and pillows to avoid excessive stress over your joints.
- Protect your joints – Use your joints properly to avoid stress. This can be achieved by dividing your work according time, using affected joint rarely for heavy loads, using equipments that facilitates your joint rather than deforming it.
Above mentioned points in the article aims to align your lifestyle on a path of healthy and peaceful living even when suffering from psoriatic arthritis. A disease can only be defeated with strong will power, focus and adequate knowledge on managing the disease. Eventually, family support helps a sufferer live a life free from depression and despair.