Arthritis is the leading cause of disability and pain across the globe. You can find ample advice on easing the arthritis pain and other such scenarios with exercise, stress reduction, and medication. On this World Autoimmune Arthritis Day, let us have a look at Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and what it is about.
This form of arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can happen in some patients with psoriasis. This can impact various varied joints in a human body along with other organs like the eyes and the GI system. Research has proved that consistent inflammation with Psoriatic arthritis can lead to joint damage. Fortunately treatments are available for most people and that preserves mobility.
Psoriatic arthritis usually occurs in people between the age of 30 to 50 but it can start as early as childhood. Women and men are equally at risk. Children who suffer from this autoimmune disease are also exposed to the risk of developing uveitis. Nearly 15% of the people suffering from psoriasis develop this disease. At times, this can appear even prior to skin disorder.
What Is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune scenario where the immune system of the body starts to target the cells of the skin, impacting in scaly red and white patches. A small portion of people with this disease can develop Psoriatic arthritis, which is also an autoimmune scenario where the immune system starts to create inflammation in the joints that results in painful, swollen, and stiff joints. Like psoriasis, this form of arthritis symptoms depend on severity from person to person.
This arthritis can impact any joint of our body, it can impact one or multiple joints. Affected toes and fingers can look like sausages, a scenario that is often known as dactylitis. Toenails and fingers also may be impacted and portray nail pitting.
PsA in the spine known as spondylitis, creates stiffness in the neck or back, and can create difficulty in bending. This can also cause tender spots where ligaments and tendons join into bones. The scenario known as enthesitis, can impact pain at the sole of the foot, the back of your heel, around the elbows, or even in other areas. This is one of the features of PsA.
According to research, continuous inflammation from PsA creates damage to your joints later. So it is crucial to start with early diagnosis. Fortunately, there are treatments that are available and are effective for most people.
What Causes PsA?
The exact reason that causes PsA is unknown. Of those suffering from PsA, 40% have a family member who is suffering from either arthritis or psoriasis, recommending genetics may play a crucial role. While psoriasis itself is not infectious, this might get triggered by a streptococcal throat infection, randomly known as strep throat.
Research anticipates that it develops from an amalgamation of genetic or hereditary and environmental impacts. They also consider factors such as immune system issues, obesity, infection, and physical trauma playing a crucial role in evaluating who will develop this disease. Psoriasis itself is not contagious or infectious.
Recent studies have shown that people who are suffering from PsA have a raised level of TNF (tumor necrosis factor) in their joints and impacted skin areas. These raised levels can overwhelm our immune system, enabling it unable for controlling the inflammation that is related with PsA.
What Are The Symptoms Of Psoriatic Arthritis?
The various symptoms of PsA may be subtle and gradual in some patients and in others they might be dramatic and sudden. It may be mild, impacting only one joint or can be severe, impacting several joints. Not all patients experience all symptoms. The most common symptoms of PsA are:
1. Joint Symptoms
The various joint symptoms of PsA include:
- Aching or pain, tenderness, or/ and swelling in several joints. In these cases, most common areas are hands, wrists, feet, ankles, and knees.
- Joint stiffness most notable in the early part of the day or with prolonged inactivity of the body like sitting for a long time.
- Decreased range of motion in affected joints.
- Stiffness or pain in the lower back.
- Pain, tenderness, or swelling where ligaments and tendons attach to the bones like Achilles’ tendon of the heel.
- Swelling of a full toe or finger with a look similar to sausage.
2. Skin Symptoms
The skin symptoms of PsA include:
- Gray or silver scaly spots on the scalp, knees, elbow, and/ or the lower spine.
- Round, small spots known as papules that arrive and at times scaly on the arms, torse, and legs.
- Pitting which looks like small depressions of the nails.
- Lifting or detachment of toenails or fingernails.
Other than the ones that have been mentioned have, there are several other symptoms of Psoriatic arthritis, that include:
- Inflammation of the eye (uveitis or iritis).
How Is Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosed?
There is no particular test for testing PsA. Healthcare operators like MD, NP, DO, PA make the diagnosis based on the medical history of the patient along with the blood test, physical exams, and X-rays of the impacted joints. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is generally not required except in unusual cases. Lab tests that may be supportive in diagnosis or employed for monitoring disease activity include the following tests:
- Rheumatoid Factor And Anti-CCP: These are types of blood tests that help in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
- HLA-B27: Blood tests that support the diagnosis. This may also be portrayed with a family history of PsA or psoriasis.
- Sedimentation Rate (ESR) And C-Reactive Protein (CRP): May hint towards inflammation.
X-rays are not commonly helpful in doing the diagnosis in the primitive stages of this disease. In the advanced stages, X-rays may portray alterations that are more randomly witnessed only in PsA. One such outcome is known as “pencil in cup”, which illustrates the results where the end of the bone gets furrowed down to a strong point. The finding portrays more severe inflammatory alterations to joints, which may need more aggressive treatments.
The diagnosis of PsA is more convenient for your healthcare operators to assure if psoriasis prevails along with relevant symptoms of arthritis. However, in as many as 15 percent patients, PsA symptoms appear prior to psoriasis. Since the symptoms of the disease can depend from patient to patient, it is even more crucial to consult your healthcare provider when symptoms turn worse or any new symptom appears.
Treatment Options Of Psoriatic Arthritis
The focus of the treatment for PsA is to handle the disease and look for its relief symptoms. Treatments may involve any amalgamation of the following:
- Medication choices that include NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), corticosteroids (intermittent use), biologics, and DMARDs (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs). .
- Cold and heat therapy.
- Energy conservation and joint protection.
It is not shocking to incur symptoms of arthritis. On this World Autoimmune Arthritis Day, we have spoken about what this actually is and how it can be prevented. It is always advised to visit a doctor or seek medical help if you encounter any symptoms of Psoriatic arthritis.