What is it?
He came into the Clinic looking pretty normal, but when he told his story, it was one of emotional trauma and pain. Why? He’d been diagnosed with Psoriatic arthritis,and wanted to know if and how he could be helped. While I have written about arthritis, I didn’t deal with this type in depth. I trust that those of you who are similarly affected would be in a better place after reading this article.
Psoriatic arthritisis a specific condition in which a person has both psoriasis and arthritis. Psoriasis is a common ailment,and a person with it generally has patches of raised red skin with scales. The affected skin looks different depending on the type of psoriasis the individual has. Arthritis is joint inflammation.
The arthritis may be mild and involve only a few joints, particularly those at the end of the fingers or toes. In some people the disease may be severe and affect many joints, including the spine. When the spine is affected, the symptoms are stiffness, burning, and pain, most often in the lower spine and sacrum. It generally affects joints on just one side or on both sides of your body. The signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis often resemble those of rheumatoid arthritis. Both diseases cause joints to become painful, swollen and warm to the touch.
People who also have arthritis usually have the skin and nail changes of psoriasis. Often, the skin gets worse at the same time as the arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis occurs when your body’s immune system begins to attack healthy cells and tissue. The abnormal immune response causes inflammation in your joints as well as overproduction of skin cells.
It’s not entirely clear why the immune system turns on healthy tissue, but it seems likely that both genetic and environmental factors play a role. Many people with psoriatic arthritis have a family history of either psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis
Physical trauma or something in the environment — such as a viral or bacterial infection — may trigger psoriatic arthritis in people with an inherited tendency.
The condition is also likely to cause:
- Swollen fingers and toesthat are painful, and sausage-like in appearance. You may also develop swelling and deformities in your hands and feet before having significant joint symptoms.
- Foot pain at the points where tendons and ligaments attach to your bones, especially at the back of your heel (Achilles tendinitis) or in the sole of your foot (plantar fasciitis).
- Lower back pain in some peoplewho develop a condition called spondylitis. Spondylitis mainly causes inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae of your spine and in the joints between your spine and pelvis.
Tests and diagnosis
No single test can confirm a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. But some types of tests can rule out other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout. Popular tests include:
X-rays – Can help pinpoint changes in the joints that occur in psoriatic arthritis but not in other arthritic conditions.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) -Utilises radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce very detailed images of both hard and soft tissues in your body. This type of imaging test may be used to check for problems with the tendons and ligaments in your feet and lower back.
Rheumatoid factor (RF) –It’s an antibody that is often present in the blood of people with rheumatoid arthritis, but not usually in the blood of people with psoriatic arthritis. For that reason, this test can help your doctor distinguish between the two conditions.
Joint fluid test – Using a long needle, your doctor can remove a small sample of fluid from one of your affected joints, often the knee. Uric acid crystals in your joint fluid may indicate that you have gout, rather than psoriatic arthritis.
Lifestyle and home remedies
No cure exists for psoriatic arthritis, so treatment focuses on controlling inflammation in your affected joints to prevent joint pain and disability. Speak to your doctor to have medication prescribed. Otherwise, observe the following:
- Protect your joints – Changing the way you carry out everyday tasks can make a tremendous difference in how you feel. For example, you can avoid – straining your finger joints by using gadgets such as jar openers to twist the lids from jars. Instead lift heavy pans or other objects with both hands, and push doors open with your whole body and not your fingers.
- Maintain a healthy weight -The result is less strain on your joints, leading to reduced pain and increased energy and mobility. The best way to increase nutrients while limiting calories is to eat more plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly – Your joints would be more flexible and your muscles stronger. Types of exercises that are less stressful on joints include biking, swimming and walking.
- Use cold and hot packs – Because cold has a numbing effect, it can dull the sensation of pain. You can apply cold several times a day for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. Heat can help relax tense muscles and relieve pain.
- Pace yourself – Battling pain and inflammation can leave you feeling exhausted. In addition, some arthritis medications can cause fatigue. The key isn’t to stop being active entirely, but to rest before you become too tired. Divide exercise or work activities into short segments. Find time to relax several times throughout the day.
Psoriatic arthritis can be particularly discouraging because the emotional pain that psoriasis can cause is compounded by joint pain and, in some cases, disability. The chemicals your body releases when you’re under stress can suppress your immune system and aggravate both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
No cure exists for psoriatic arthritis, so the focus is on controlling symptoms and preventing damage to your joints. Without treatment, this condition may be disabling.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!