At Rheumatology Solutions, our dedicated staff has expertise in treating numerous inflammatory conditions, including psoriatic arthritis. If you have psoriasis and you’re concerned about whether or not you’re developing psoriatic arthritis, we may be able to help you. Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition, and there is no cure, but there are treatments that can relieve your symptoms.
About one-third of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. Both are autoimmune conditions, which means your immune system attacks your body, specifically your skin and joints, and in some instances, your organs.
Most often, psoriatic arthritis affects the small joints of your fingers, especially those joints closest to your nails. It also commonly affects your wrists, ankles, and knees, although any joint, large or small, can be affected. The joint may swell, feel tender and warm, and be painful to move.
Psoriatic arthritis can cause your nails to separate from the nail beds, raising and cracking. Some people also experience a condition called enthesitis, which is inflammation where a tendon or ligament attaches to a bone. Enthesitis often happens in your heels.
Some people have chronic, debilitating psoriatic arthritis while others develop a milder form of the disease. You may experience flares, too, in which your symptoms appear and worsen suddenly. Whether you have a more severe or milder condition, it’s important to do what you can to protect your joints from the damage inflammation causes.
There are several different types of medications used to treat psoriatic arthritis. The goal of treatment is to reduce the inflammation and protect your joints, slow the progression of the disease, and improve your quality of life.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are usually the first line of defense in reducing inflammation. Your doctor may recommend taking an over-the-counter medication or may suggest a stronger, prescription NSAID. Either way, the medication should reduce both inflammation and pain.
Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, or DMARDs, may be a treatment option. They may slow the progression of your disease and are designed to save your joints and the tissues that surround them. DMARDs aren’t appropriate for everyone because they can have some serious side effects.
A newer, specific class of DMARDs are called biologics. Biologics target parts of your immune system more precisely. Some biologics are used in conjunction with other DMARDs.
Because psoriatic arthritis is caused by an immune system malfunction, suppressing the immune system is an effective treatment for some people. Immunosuppressants are drugs that do just that. One potential concern is that suppressing your immune system makes you more susceptible to viruses and infections.
If your joints become so damaged they no longer function properly, your doctor may suggest joint replacement surgery. Although it may sound like a drastic step, joint replacement surgery is much more common than it used to be and has incredibly high satisfaction rates among patients who have had the procedure.
If you have psoriasis, you have a risk of developing psoriatic arthritis. Other risk factors include being Caucasian, having a family history of psoriatic arthritis, and being between 30-50 years old. If you’re concerned about psoriatic arthritis, or you have symptoms, schedule an appointment at Rheumatology Solutions.