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Psoriatic Arthritis Factsheet (Psoriatic Arthritis)
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Psoriatic Arthritis Factsheet

Jack Toole, MD

What is Psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is an uncommon form of arthritis that affects about a third of people who have psoriasis. Although psoriasis can begin at any age, usually following skin trauma of some sort which triggers the condition, the arthritic effect usually starts following the psoriasis, usually during the 20s to the 40s. For more information about psoriasis, visit www.psoriasisguide.ca.

How do I know if I have psoriatic arthritis?

Symptoms include pain and swelling at the elbow, knees, or the back of the heels. These areas are where tendons and ligaments attach to the bone. The fingers or toes may swell up, and your nails may also be affected, detaching from the skin, or develop puncturing holes in them.

Who gets psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis can affect anyone, and affect men and women equally. There is, however, a hereditary component to the disease, and nearly 40% of patients with psoriatic arthritis have a family history of psoriasis. Children of parents who have psoriasis are three times more likely than usual to develop psoriasis. In some cases, psoriatic arthritis, like psoriasis, is triggered by skin trauma, or infections.

Is there a cure?

At this time, there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis. However, there are medications to mitigate the stiffness and pain caused by psoriatic arthritis. Adjustments and lifestyle and proper physiotherapy can also make an enormous difference. These are some common treatments:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs without steroids can relieve joint pain and swelling, however, they will not prevent joint damage caused by psoriatic arthritis.
  • Steroid cortisone injections to the affected area can reduce swelling and pain.
  • For severe cases, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are prescribed, which stop the psoriasis from progressing. These drugs can take up to six months before a change becomes apparent.
  • Surgery may be required for people with severe psoriatic arthritis.

There are some everyday steps that can be taken to reduce the pain:

  • Proper exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, reducing stress on your joints.
  • Keep the skin moisturized using lanolin cream, mineral oil, or petroleum jelly.
  • Don’t overstrain the joints. Limit tasks that put excessive pressure on the joints.
  • Applying heat can reduce soreness and relax the muscles.
  • Applying cold will help to control swelling.
  • Meditation or breathing exercising can help you cope through the pain.

Related:

psoriasis,   psoriatic arthritis,   treatments,