What is psoriatic arthritis?
Do you have psoriasis? If so, it’s important to pay attention to your joints. Some people who have psoriasis get a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis.
This arthritis often begins with a few swollen joints. A single finger or toe may be noticeably swollen. Some people feel stiff when they wake up. As they move around, the stiffness fades.
Psoriasis can affect people of any age, both male and female, but psoriatic arthritis tends to affect more adults than young people.
Most people get psoriatic arthritis about 5 to 12 years after psoriasis. This arthritis can show up earlier. Some people get psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis at the same time. A few get psoriatic arthritis first and psoriasis later.
If you have psoriasis, there is no way to tell whether you will get psoriatic arthritis. This is why it is important to pay attention to swollen joints. An early diagnosis and treatment will help. These can reduce the effect that arthritis has on your life.
Like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis is a long-term condition that can get progressively worse. In severe cases, there’s a risk of the joints becoming permanently damaged or deformed, which may require surgical treatment.
What are the Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis can affect joints on just one side or on both sides of your body
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can include:
- pain and stiffness in and around your joints
- swollen fingers or toes (dactylitis), caused by inflammation in both joints and tendons
- buttock pain, a stiff back or a stiff neck, which is caused by inflammation in your spine (spondylitis)
- pain and swelling in your heels, caused by inflammation where the Achilles tendon attaches to the bone
- pain in other areas where tendons attach to bone (enthesitis), such as your knee, hip and chest
- pitting, discoloration and thickening of your nails
- fatigue, which can be caused by the activity of the disease and the emotional effects that come with living with a long-term condition.
What causes Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis occurs when your body’s immune system begins to attack healthy cells and tissue. The abnormal immune response causes inflammation in your joints as well as overproduction of skin cells.
It’s not entirely clear why the immune system turns on healthy tissue, but it seems likely that both genetic and environmental factors play a role. Many people with psoriatic arthritis have a family history of either psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Researchers have discovered certain genetic markers that appear to be associated with psoriatic arthritis.
Physical trauma or something in the environment — such as a viral or bacterial infection — may trigger psoriatic arthritis in people with an inherited tendency
What are the risk factors for psoriatic arthritis?
Several factors can increase your risk of psoriatic arthritis, including:
Psoriasis. Having psoriasis is the single greatest risk factor for developing psoriatic arthritis. People who have psoriasis lesions on their nails are especially likely to develop psoriatic arthritis.
Your family history. Many people with psoriatic arthritis have a parent or a sibling with the disease.
Your age. Although anyone can develop psoriatic arthritis, it occurs most often in adults between the ages of 30 and 50
What are the complications of Psoriatic Arthritis?
A small percentage of people with psoriatic arthritis develop arthritis mutilans — a severe, painful and disabling form of the disease. Over time, arthritis mutilans destroys the small bones in your hands, especially the fingers, leading to permanent deformity and disability.
People who have psoriatic arthritis sometimes also develop eye problems such as pinkeye (conjunctivitis) or uveitis, which can cause painful, reddened eyes and blurred vision. This can damage your eyesight if untreated.
They also are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease.