What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

According to the Psoriasis Association of Singapore, at least 40,000 people are affected by the disease in the country. While most cases of psoriasis take on the form of chronic plaque psoriasis, there is one type of the disease that affect the joints in the ankles, knees, and fingers.

Causes and Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of chronic inflammatory arthritis and occurs mostly in people with psoriasis which also affects the large joints in the distal joints (joints closest to the nail) of the toes and fingers, lower extremities, the back, and the sacroiliac joints in the pelvis.

According to studies, nearly 30% of patients with skin psoriasis are likely to develop psoriatic arthritis, and 85% of these have symptoms of arthritis can appear before the skin disease manifests. The symptoms will vary among the affected persons and will typically manifest between 30 to 50 years of age. There are children, however, who also develop this condition and are even at risk of having an inflamed middle eye layer called uveitis.

The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include the following: tenderness, swelling, and pain on the tendons; pain, throbbing, and stiffness in the joints; fatigue; reduced motion; morning stiffness; nail problems; and pain and redness in the eyes.

Treatments for Psoriatic Arthritis
Treatment must be given immediately if the symptoms show, because it can result to permanent damage in the joints. To determine whether you have psoriatic arthritis, a number of tests such as physical examination, MRI, X-ray, and blood tests are done. The symptoms, however, mimic those of other types of arthritic diseases and must be ruled out before any treatment can be recommended. Once the doctor has made sure that you have psoriatic arthritis, he/she will then have to examine how many joints are affected and the severity of the condition assessed.

Symmetric psoriatic arthritis targets joints found on both sides of your body, while asymmetric affects only one side of the body. Oligoarticular is the term for mild psoriatic arthritis and usually affects less than four joints, while spondylitis affects the spinal column. Enthesitis affects the entheses or the part where the tendons and ligaments are connected to your bones, while dactylitis is the inflammation of the toe or finger and distal psoriatic arthritis stiffens the ends of the toes and fingers and changes the nails.

The symptoms are treated with NSAIDs, DMARDs, and steroid injections for inflammation. Biologic types are also infused or injected, while anti-rheumatic drugs are recommended for cases that don’t respond to the usual medication. For the skin, you will be prescribed tar-based ointments, steroid-based creams, retinoid tablets, and light therapies. If there is a need for a repair to a damaged tendon, you might also need surgery.

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