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Psoriatic Arthritis: Symptoms, Causes And All That You Need To Know

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New Delhi: Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease caused when your immune system attacks your joints and skin. It is a chronic autoimmune or inflammatory disease that affects some people who have psoriasis, a skin disorder marked by red, scaly patches. If left untreated, this type of arthritis can cause joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, as well as joint damage. A few people may develop psoriatic arthritis before they have psoriasis, while some others with psoriatic arthritis do not always have visible patches of psoriasis.

Symptoms Of Psoriatic Arthritis:

Psoriatic arthritis can cause several different symptoms around the body. Everyone is affected differently by psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms can be mild or severe, affect a few or many joints, and come and go. 

Some of the main symptoms include:

  • Joint pain
  • Swelling in one or more joints
  • Joint stiffness 
  • Nails may become pitted or separate from the nail bed
  • Fingers and toes may swell.
  • Heel or sole of the foot may pain.

Causes Of Psoriatic Arthritis:

Psoriatic Arthritis (like psoriasis) is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue by mistake, causing inflammation and pain and as a result damages them. Researchers believe that it is a combination of having certain genes that predispose them to the disease and being triggered by something in the environment, such as an infection, stress, physical trauma, or another factor. 

Types Of Psoriatic Arthritis:

1. Asymmetric Psoriatic Arthritis

This type is typically gentle. It is distinguished by the fact that swelling and discomfort are restricted to only one side of your body, most commonly in the knee, hip, fingers, or toes. This type affects roughly one-third of people with psoriatic arthritis.

2. Symmetric Psoriatic Arthritis:

This is the most common type, affecting roughly half of those who have the condition. It strikes corresponding pairs of joints. It could be in both knees, hands, or feet, or on the left and right sides of your hips.

3. Distal Psoriatic Arthritis:

Distal refers to distance from the centre. As a result, this type of psoriatic arthritis manifests itself in the tips of your fingers and toes.

4. Spondylitis:

Constant back pain is a symptom of this type. Your neck may also feel stiff and achy. It occurs when the joints between your spine’s vertebrae become inflamed. Spondylitis can also affect connective tissue, such as ligaments, or be associated with arthritis in the arms, hips, legs, or feet.

5. Arthritis Mutilans:

This is the most serious and uncommon form of psoriatic arthritis. This pattern is found in less than one in every twenty people. It harms the small joints and tissues at the tips of your fingers and toes. Because of bone loss in the joints, it may cause your fingers and toes to shorten. It can sometimes affect your neck and back.

Diagnosis Of Psoriatic Arthritis:

During the examination, your physician may:

  • Assess your joints for indications of swelling or sensitivity.
  • Examine your fingernails for irregularities like pitting and flaking.
  • Apply pressure to the soles of your feet and the areas around your heels to identify tender spots.

Although no single test can definitively diagnose psoriatic arthritis, certain tests can help eliminate other potential causes of joint discomfort, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

  1. X-rays: These can identify joint changes specific to psoriatic arthritis and distinguish them from other forms of arthritis.
  2. MRI: This technique employs radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to create detailed images of both soft and hard tissues. MRI can detect issues with tendons and ligaments in the lower back and feet.

  1. Rheumatoid Factor (RF): While rheumatoid factor is typically found in the blood of those with rheumatoid arthritis, it is usually absent in individuals with psoriatic arthritis. This test aids in distinguishing between the two conditions.
  2. Joint Fluid Test: Using a needle, a small sample of fluid is extracted from an affected joint, often the knee. The presence of uric acid crystals in the joint fluid could indicate gout rather than psoriatic arthritis, although both conditions could coexist.

Treatment Of Psoriatic Arthritis:

There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis. Controlling inflammation in your affected joints and controlling skin involvement are the main goals of treatment. Prescription medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) help to slow the progession and save the joints from being permanently damaged.

The medications used to treat psoriatic arthritis also include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation for people suffereing from mils psoriatic arthritis.

Additionally, physical and occupational therapies might help to lessen the pain and make it easier to do everyday tasks. In case a joint has ben permanently damaged, then a joint replacement surgery may also help.

Treatment will be determined by the severity of your disease and which joints are affected. You may need to try several treatments before you find one that works for you.

Precautions For Psoriatic Arthritis:

Protect your joints: Modifying your approach to daily tasks can impact your well-being. For instance, utilize tools like jar openers for twisting lids off jars, employ both hands to lift heavy objects, and employ your entire body to push doors open, not just your hands.

Maintain a proper weight: This eases pressure on your joints, resulting in diminished discomfort and enhanced vitality and mobility. Shedding excess kilos, if necessary, can also result in the effectiveness of your medications. A healthy, balanced diet rich in fresh foods like fruits and vegetables and low in sugar, fat, and salt can help people with psoriatic arthritis improve their overall health and weight control.

Additionally, consuming an excessive amount of unhealthy foods may increase inflammation and fatigue.  

Engage in regular physical activity: Low-impact exercises like cycling, swimming, walking, yoga, and tai chi are gentler on joints. Confronting pain and inflammation can be draining. Furthermore, some arthritis medications can induce fatigue. Divide exercise or work tasks into brief intervals and incorporate moments of relaxation throughout the day.

Quit smoking and drinking: Smoking is harmful to one’s health. It’s never too late to quit smoking. Excessive alcohol consumption can impair medication effectiveness, increase drug side effects, and lead to weight gain. Ask your doctor if you can drink alcohol while being treated for psoriatic arthritis. 

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