What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic Arthritis is a kind of arthritis that commonly occurs in people who develop the skin condition called psoriasis. It can cause swollen joints to become stiff and painful. Between one and two in every five people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. Usually this develops within 10 years after a psoriasis diagnosis, although some people experience problems with their joints before noticing anything with their skin. This happens because skin is regenerating itself each month. New skin cells form underneath the outer layer of older skin. The old skin cells are then shed, exposing the new skin beneath. Psoriasis develops when the skin regeneration process happens too quickly. When the skin cells develop faster than they should, the old skin isn’t shed quick enough. The result is scaly red patches of skin that can itch and feel very sore. Psoriasis plaques are usually found in patches on the knees, elbows, buttocks or head. They can however, appear anywhere on the body and may occasionally cover a wider area. Psoriatic Arthritis generally develops in psoriasis sufferers, although it doesn’t mean that psoriasis sufferers will develop the condition, no matter the severity of their symptoms. The condition is found to occur in around 5-10% of people with psoriasis. Additionally, around 15% of people develop Psoriatic Arthritis before experiencing psoriasis symptoms.  

Different Types Of Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms

There are five different types of Psoriatic Arthritis and each has its own symptoms and treatment. Symmetrical Psoriatic Arthritis affects both joints on each side of the body. Symptoms resemble a mild form of rheumatoid arthritis, although it can also occur in more severe forms. Another type of Psoriatic Arthritis, is Asymmetric and generally affects less than five individual joints, rather than in pairs. It’s most commonly found in swelling in the fingers and toes, causing them to have a sausage appearance. This is milder and less progressive than other types. Spondylitis (in the joints of the spine) can cause inflammation of the spinal joints and discs, causing severe deformities if left untreated. It is a rare form of Psoriatic Arthritis and this affects fewer than 5% of sufferers, but it can be severe and destroy cartilage and bone tissue. This leads to the deformity of the hands, feet or spine. Generally, flare-ups occur in subsequent remissions which are reflected in psoriasis symptoms. Distal interphangeal joints affect the first joint in the toes and fingers as this can be mistaken for osteoarthritis. Arthritis Mutilans causes severe inflammation that damages the joints of hands and feet.

Treatment For Psoriatic Arthritis

Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis can be managed by using non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, anti-rheumatic drugs and biological therapies. All of these can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in the body caused by painful symptoms. Managing your weight (especially if you are overweight), enjoying a balance between rest and regular physical activity, avoiding drinking, smoking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can all improve symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis in the long-term.