Psoriatic Arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects people with psoriasis. This is a chronic condition characterized by the inflammation of the joints and the spine. Psoriatic arthritis symptoms include patchy, red, scaly, and raised areas of the skin, usually on the hands and the feet.
Psoriasis commonly affects Caucasians, and health statistics show that 2% of Caucasians in the United States suffer from psoriasis. Genetics and environment play an important role in diagnosing psoriatic arthritis.
Though the causes of this condition are still unknown, doctors believe that it can be hereditary or that the body has been exposed to harmful bacteria or viruses in the environment. Patients may also develop tendonitis and inflammation around the cartilage, lungs, and eyes. It can damage the spine, chest bones, and the sacrum, making it hard for the patient to move.
Treatment of this disease can be difficult because psoriasis often precedes arthritis for months or even years, or vice versa. Among all patients with arthritis, patients with psoriatic arthritis have the highest emotional stress. Because patients not only deal with the embarrassing fact they have psoriasis, they also deal with the unending pain of having arthritis. As the pain and swelling flares up, daily movements become a burden, it interferes with work, daily activities, and social life. Patients with this kind of disease may feel alone, withdrawn, or stressed.
The main symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are joint pain, swelling, and stiffness of the muscles. It can affect any part of the body such as the spine, fingertips, wrist, and feet. People with this disease also find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Pain and stiffness are usually worst in the morning after waking up. Patients should be allowed 30 minutes to warm the body up and flex and stretch a little.
People suffering from this disease are easily tired, especially in the early afternoon. The signs and symptoms may range from mild to severe flare-ups, with periods of remissions and recurrences, common among arthritis patients. Stress can trigger flare-ups as well. It is important for patients with this condition to learn how to cope with stress and learn relaxation techniques.
To date, there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis. Both psoriasis and arthritis are autoimmune disorders. These disorders occur when the immune system begins to attack healthy cells and tissues instead of harmful viruses and bacteria. This causes inflammation in the joints and over-production of skin cells. The medications available on the market today only target the swelling, inflammation, and pain.
Exercise, dietary and lifestyle modification, and learning to cope with this condition are the best ways to prevent flare-ups. Stretching exercises can help the patient become more flexible and increase muscle and joint strength.