Psoriatic arthritis is a kind of inflammatory process that emerges in approximately 15 per cent of people suffering from psoriasis. This unpleasant ailment can strike any joint in the human body. According to recent studies, permanent joint inflammation caused by psoriatic arthritis may cause damage to the joints. Available treating methods are effective for the prevailing majority of people suffering from this ailment.
The ailment usually occurs in 30-50-year-old people. However, it can also occur in young children. Males and females are equally vulnerable to the ailment. Uveitis (inflammatory disease of the eye choroid) can occur in children suffering from psoriatic arthritis. In some cases, the ailment can begin before symptoms appear on the skin.
Psoriasis arthritis – key signs
The ailment can have slow development with minor symptoms. Also it can progress very quickly with severe signs. If a doctor timely identifies the disease, diagnoses it and prescribes the proper treatment, serious consequences, such as severe joint damaging, can be avoided. The ailment may occur as a result of trauma, so it may look like inflammation after injury.
Here is a list of typical symptoms of the ailment:
1) general tiredness;
2) tendons’ soreness and swelling;
3) swelling of toes and fingers;
4) discomfort, pain, pulsing in the joints;
5) low range of movement;
6) tiredness & stiffness in the morning;
7) changes in nails, for instance, thickening, and discoloring, nails can look as if they were affected by fungal infections;
8) reddening and painful sensations in the eyes.
Typically, the ailment affects joints that are in close proximity to the nails (joints near toes or fingers). In addition, patients may experience pain in their low back, knees and wrists.
In more than 80 per cent of affected people, skin psoriasis starts first, then disorder of the joints is manifested. Therefore, if an individual has psoriasis and experiences ache or painful sensations in his joints, he should immediately consult his dermatologist.
Diagnosis of psoriasis arthritis
In order to diagnose the ailment, specialists examine joints, check whether there is swelling and painful sensations –
signs of arthritis. They may also examine the skin area to detect specific features of psoriasis. Often X-rays examinations are made to help detect damage to the joints. Magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography and ultrasound scans may also be used in order to see patients’ joints in detail.
Also, patients may take blood tests. Blood tests can help healthcare professionals to differentiate the ailment from other conditions (for instance, osteoarthritis, and gout) which share similar signs or symptoms. Blood tests of individuals suffering from psoriasis arthritis can show severe inflammatory processes and slight anemia. Sometimes, skin biopsy procedure (removing sample of skin tissue) can be performed in order to confirm the diagnosis.
Types of psoriatic arthritis
As well as its predecessor, psoriasis arthritis can be mild or severe. A healthcare professional should consider the quantity of affected joints before choosing a therapy plan. There may be cases when patients have a small amount of damaged joints but suffer from severe pain. It should be also considered when choosing treatment options.
A mild form of the disease is sometimes called oligoarticular. This means that it affects 4 joints or even fewer. Severe disease is often called polyarticular – it affects at least 4 joints.
Spondylitis is an inflammatory process in vertebra. It can emerge in some people suffering from the ailment. The key symptoms include inflammatory process with stiffness in the back of the neck muscles, as well as in low back & joints between the sacrum and the ilium bones of the pelvis. Spondylitis causes soreness and complexity when an individual makes motions in such areas.
Enthesitis is irritability of enthesis tissue where muscles, tendons or ligaments enter into the bone tissue. Usual sites where enthesitis is manifested are feet bottoms, the heel cord, areas where ligaments are attached to the pelvis, backbone or ribs. Enthesitis occurs only in combination with psoriasis arthritis and doesn’t accompany such conditions as osteoarthritis or RA (rheumatoid arthritis). This dangerous ailment can cause such complications as fibrosis and calcification of the affected body tissues.
Dactylitis is inflammatory process in either a finger or a toe. The affected fingers/toes swell up into the shape of a sausage and may be painful. The ailment occurs when little joints & enthuses (connective tissues) of tendons are inflamed. Also, it is the hallmark of psoriatic arthritis. As a rule, the ailment affects a few fingers/toes, but they are not next to each other, the ailment typically affects different body sides.
The disease may also affect arms’ & legs’ joints – hands, feet, elbows etc.
What to do?
The ailment has chronic (long-term) and progressive state (it gradually gets worse). It can cause severe damage to the joints if therapy is untimely. Like its predecessor, the arthritis form is connected with other conditions. Fortunately, treatment of the ailment can minimizes the risk of occurring other associated conditions, such as cardiovascular pathologies.
Therefore, it’s very important to promptly consult your healthcare expert and adhere to his recommendations. To get the highest level of medical care, you should contact a rheumatologist. The latter is a physician who specializes in diseases of the joints, including psoriasis arthritis. Ask your current healthcare professional to give you a special referral to a rheumatology specialist.