What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
This disease is linked to the skin disease psoriasis. It may cause swelling and pain in scaly skin patches and joints on some parts of the body. It is also known as inflammation by some people.
It affects the knees, fingers, back, toes, wrists and ankles. It can cause a scaly skin rash on the scalp, elbows and knees. It can affect a lot of joints including the wrists, ankles, and shoulder joints, joints in the lower back, fingers and toes. It is equally affected men and women.
Causes of Psoriasis
This disease causes patches in red color on the some area of the body. About one out of twenty persons with psoriasis will associate psoriatic arthritis along with the skin disease. In most of cases, arthritis comes after the psoriasis. There is no main cause of psoriatic arthritis, but genetic factors may involve developing the disease.
Signs and Symptoms
- Joint pain
- Joint swelling
- Skin lesions of psoriasis
- Nail abnormalities
- Scaly spots in grey or silver color on the elbows, lower end of the spine, knees or scalp
- Fatigue and stiffness in the morning
- Eye inflammations such as iritic or conjunctivitis
- Discoloration of nails
- Swelling of toes or fingers
How is Psoriatic Arthritis diagnosed?
It is very difficult to diagnose the disease due to many reasons. One reason is that someone is considered to have this disease only in case of having symptoms of arthritis and psoriasis. The following tests and procedures will be performed by the health care providers to determine the disease:
Joint fluid test: A small sample of joint fluid will be removed by the doctor and send it to laboratory for analysis.
X-rays: these are very effective to diagnose the disease. These may help pinpoint changes in the joints, which are occurred only this disease.
Rheumatoid factor: This is an antibody made by the immune system. This is mainly found in the blood of people who are suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. But this is not found in people with psoriatic arthritis. Therefore, this test is very useful for the health care providers to distinguish between the two diseases.
Blood tests: The number of red blood cells in the blood will be checked by the doctor to detect psoriatic arthritis.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate: This is also called by sed rate. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate is checked by the doctor for measure how far from the top of a glass tube to red blood cells fall in a given time. If erythrocyte sedimentation rate is increased, then people are suffered from psoratic arthritis.
The goal of treatment for the disease is to reduce swelling and joint pain, relieve scaly, dry skin, or prevent joint damage. The types of treatment depend on the causes, signs and symptoms of the disease.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: These drugs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, others) and aspirin are recommended by the doctor to help reduce the stiffness and swelling and control pain. Use of these drugs for long term period can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers. It can also irritate the intestine and stomach. Other side effects of these drugs include heart failure, damage to kidneys and fluid retention.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs: These drugs also help to reduce the inflammation and pain or limit the amount of joint damage. These drugs include gold salts, methotrexate, sulfasalzine and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat the disease.
Immunosuppressant medications: These medications protect the body from harmful organisms. These medications include cyclosporine and azathioprine to treat the disease.
Oral medications: Retinoids such as isotretinoin and acitretin may use to treat the severe cases of psoriasis. These medications have some side effects such as sun sensitivity, lip and eye inflammation, liver toxicity and bone thinning. These medications never take during pregnancy.