2017-10-12 / Living

Arthritis linked to another condition

People who see dermatologists for the skin condition psoriasis should not take the presence of joint aches and pains lightly, as the two things might be connected. The National Psoriasis Foundation notes that psoriasis is a precursor to psoriatic arthritis in 30 percent of patients.

What is psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that affects the rate of skin cell reproduction. People with psoriasis may experience redness, itchiness and raised bumps (plaques) of skin on various areas of their bodies. Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic form of arthritis that typically occurs in people with skin psoriasis, but also can be present in those without the skin condition, but particularly among those who have relatives with psoriasis.

The American College of Rheumatology says that psoriatic arthritis typically affects the large joints, especially the lower extremities, distal joints of the fingers and toes and the back and sacroiliac joints of the pelvis. Early recognition, diagnosis and treatment of psoriatic arthritis are crucial to relieving inflammation and preventing permanent joint damage.

Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can develop gradually or quickly, and some symptoms can be severe. NPF indicates that common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include

• morning stiffness and tiredness;

• tenderness, pain and swelling over tendons;

• swollen fingers and toes;

• reduced range of motion;

• nail changes, including pitting, and

• redness and pain in the eyes.

Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are similar to rheumatoid arthritis, gout and reactive arthritis. Doctors will rule out other symptoms that may be indicative of those conditions. The American College of Rheumatology also indicates that psoriatic arthritis is typically blood test negative. The diagnosis is typically made by a rheumatologist after reviewing a clinical history and performing a physical exam.

Treatment

Doctors will need to assess symptoms before deciding on a course of treatment. Mild cases may respond to over-thecounter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. However, antirheumatic drugs and newer biologic drugs may be prescribed to treat more aggressive cases of psoriatic arthritis.

Corticosteroid injections can be useful for swollen joints, and surgery may be necessary to repair badly damaged joints.

Individuals who suspect their arthritis may be linked to psoriasis can first speak with a dermatologist or primary care physician. The NPF also offers a screening tool at www.psoriasis.org/psa-screening.

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