Psoriatic arthritis typically develops among individuals suffering from psoriasis. This is a form of arthritis that causes the joints to become tender, swollen and painful.
As an autoimmune disease, the immune system of the body attacks the joints. In most cases, an infection or significant injury to the joint can instigate arthritis in some individuals who have psoriasis.
It is important to note that there is no specific testing to diagnose the condition. The doctor might conduct a physical exam to check for swelling in the joints and any changes in the nails and skin. Some imaging tests that are carried out include blood tests and X-rays.
The condition typically affects the joints in the toes and fingers with the following symptoms:
Other joints might also be affected while some might experience pain in the back part of the heel.
Some might have issues with their toenails and fingernails. The nails might develop pits, changes in color or even separate from the nail bed. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. In severe cases, it can affect several joints and make it difficult to perform daily tasks.
The symptoms involving the joints might occur before, at the same time or after developing skin symptoms from psoriasis. The symptoms affecting the joint and skin might come and go over time. As for the joint symptoms, they tend to improve after the skin issues settle.
The treatment can help alleviate the symptoms and prevent impairment of the joints. This includes medications along with physiotherapy or occupational therapy.
Over-the-counter pain medications such as naproxen or ibuprofen can be given for mild pain. If the symptoms worsen after these medications are used, a doctor must be consulted right away.
As for severe cases, more potent drugs might be used to reduce the pain and prevent damage to the joints. These include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics. In addition, steroid injections or pills are also given to alleviate joint pain.
Physiotherapy can help the individual move and stay active, build up strength, learn to properly manage daily tasks and alleviate the pain. In some individuals with severe arthritis, surgery is required to replace or fix the damaged joints.