About 1.5 million people in the United States have psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Roughly 30% of people with psoriasis develop PsA. At Rheumatology Solutions, our team of expert providers want to help our psoriasis patients understand their risk for psoriatic arthritis and limit it as much as possible.
Not all arthritis is the same. In fact there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory condition and is somewhat similar to rheumatoid arthritis. It’s classified as a type of spondyloarthropathy, along with several other types of arthritis such as ankylosing spondylitis and reactive arthritis.
PsA is also an autoimmune condition. That means if you have it, your immune system is malfunctioning and attacking healthy tissue.
The main risk factor for developing PsA is having psoriasis. In the majority of instances, people first see the plaques associated with psoriasis then later begin to have symptoms of PsA, but sometimes joint issues begin first, followed by skin involvement, or the two issues occur together.
Researchers don’t know exactly why some people who have psoriasis develop PsA, but they have identified a genetic component. Having a close family member who has PsA makes it more likely that you will develop it.
There are also some specific gene mutations that are associated with PsA. Certain mutations within a group called the HLA complex have been identified more often in people with PsA than the general population. Scientists are still learning about genes associated with psoriatic arthritis, and it’s important to know that having one of the mutations that occurs commonly in people with PsA doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop it.
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing PsA. About 40% of people with PsA are overweight, and weight loss has been associated with a lessening of PsA symptoms. Obesity is linked to increased inflammation in the body, and that higher level of inflammation could be the reason extra weight increases the risk of PsA.
Smoking raises your risk of numerous health issues, including psoriatic arthritis. In addition to raising your risk of developing PsA, it may also make your treatments less effective. Researchers suggest that smoking increases your level of inflammation overall, and that may be responsible for the link.
It isn’t unusual for someone to develop PsA about 10 years after they first notice signs of psoriasis. If you’re between the ages of 30 and 50, you have an increased risk of psoriatic arthritis. Generally, people develop PsA at younger ages than other types of arthritis.
Researchers aren’t sure why, but it seems there’s an association between being exposed to certain viruses, such as the streptococcus virus, and the later onset of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. People who have HIV are also more prone to developing PsA.
If you have questions about your risk for PsA, schedule an appointment at Rheumatology Solutions. We can help you evaluate your risk and make suggestions to lower it.