If you have psoriasis, it’s important to be aware of the first symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the better the chances are for effective management. Start a search online to learn more about the first signs of and treatment for psoriatic arthritis.
What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is caused by inflammation of the joints and the connective structures that attach to the bone due to an overactive immune system. Approximately one-third of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, notes WebMD, which can have varying degrees of severity and progression rates.
While it can occur at any age, it is commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 30 and 50. Unfortunately there is no known cure for psoriatic arthritis, but early detection and treatment can slow the progression of the disease, relieve pain, and minimize damage to joints and mobility, says the source. It also tends to have a genetic component, so anyone with a family history of psoriatic arthritis or psoriasis should monitor and report any related symptoms to their doctor.
Types of Psoriatic Arthritis
Healthline categorizes psoriatic arthritis into five distinct types. The first is symmetric psoriatic arthritis, which causes joint pain and inflammation on both sides of the body and asymmetric psoriatic arthritis affects joints on only one side of the body.
Distal interphalangeal predominant psoriatic arthritis is characterized by joint pain and swelling near the nails, whereas spondylitis psoriatic arthritis involves inflammation in the spine and other areas of the body.
Lastly, psoriatic arthritis mutilans is the most severe and disfiguring subtype. Healthline notes that the prevalent and severity of symptoms can vary significantly depending on the type of psoriatic arthritis, and each necessitates a specific approach to treatment.
First Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are chronic illnesses that progressively worsen with time, yet there may be periods when symptoms improve or temporarily disappear. According to the Mayo Clinic, the first signs of psoriatic arthritis often occur in the joints, on one or both sides of the body. These symptoms are similar to rheumatoid arthritis with joint pain, swelling, and warmth,
However, psoriatic arthritis can also cause swollen fingers, toes, painful tendons and ligaments at bone attachment sites, lower back pain, nail deformities, and eye inflammation that can lead to vision loss if untreated.
Available Treatment Options
Psoriatic arthritis cannot be cured, so treatment is aimed at managing inflammation in the affected joints to prevent joint pain and disability and control skin involvement, says the Mayo Clinic.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are the most commonly prescribed medications, notes the source. However, treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition and the affected joints, and you may need to try several treatments before finding one that effectively alleviates your symptoms.
Surgery is a last resort option that only occurs in severe cases with extensive joint damage.
There are three different types of medications used to treat psoriatic arthritis, both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription. The first is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, says the Arthritis Foundation.
Other options are corticosteroids, which are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs taken orally or through injection into a joint and DMARDs, potent medications that can halt the progression of psoriatic arthritis by reducing inflammation, explains the source.
Biologics are a type of DMARDs commonly used, such as Risankizumab (Skyrizi) and Taltz. These drugs have been developed to target the inflammation associated with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, with clinical studies showing significant improvement after 24 weeks of treatment.
Lifestyle Changes and Remedies
In addition to medical treatment, there are several things people can do on their own to alleviate the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. WebMD suggests maintaining a healthy weight to reduce the pressure on your joints and improve the effectiveness of medications.
Other lifestyle changes are to quit smoking, limit alcohol intake, and exercise regularly. All of these things will help reduce inflammation, boost overall health, and enhance the efficacy of treatments.
Consider physical or occupational therapy to learn techniques for managing your symptoms, such as exercises, body adjustments, hot and cold therapy, or the use of assistive devices to support your joints, says WebMD. Lastly, explore natural therapies like acupuncture or massage therapy to relieve pain and stiffness.