Psoriatic arthritis

What is psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a rheumatic disease that causes inflammation in the joints. This pathology is associated with a chronic skin condition called psoriasis and generally appears after the aforementioned skin lesions. It rarely manifests simultaneously or precedes the dermatological lesions. In addition, this pathology usually affects the joints of the fingers and toes, which become inflamed and lose function. The evolution of the disease can deform and destroy these joints. Treatment consists of relieving symptoms with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and modifying and slowing down the disease with immunosuppressants. Rest during periods of inflammation and physical rehabilitation are also important. When psoriatic arthritis affects children, the disease is included in the category of juvenile arthritis, which presents various clinical modalities such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in children and reactive arthritis in children, among others.

Prognosis of the disease

Often the disease is mild and only damages a few joints. The areas in which some people may suffer severe psoriatic arthritis in limbs such as feet and hands, or in the spine, which can cause deformities. On the other hand in people with severe arthritis, treatment can relieve pain and prevent as far as possible the destruction of the joint. In addition, if treatment is started early enough, it will be more effective.

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Psoriatic arthritis is characterized by changes in the patient’s skin.

Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis

Sometimes this ailment can be brief and damage only a few joints, specifically the endings of the fingers or toes. At other times the disease can be severe and affect a group of joints, including the spine. In cases where the spine is affected, its symptoms appear in the form of stiffness, burning and pain, especially noticeable in the lumbar and sacrum. In the same way, people who also suffer from arthritis regularly suffer skin and nail changes due to psoriasis. Often the skin worsens as the arthritis worsens.

Medical tests for psoriatic arthritis

The specialist will perform a physical examination looking for:

  • Joint swelling
  • Skin patches (psoriasis) and also dimpling of the nails
  • Tenderness

In addition, the specialist may need to make use of X-rays of the joint to make a correct diagnosis.

What are the causes of psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriasis is a common, chronic skin disease that causes red patches on the body. 1 in 20 people affected by this disease will suffer from arthritis with the skin condition. Most of the time, psoriasis appears before arthritis. To recapitulate, the cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown, however genes may be decisive in the onset. Broadly speaking, people with psoriasis are more likely to suffer from arthritis than the rest of the population.

Can it be prevented?

There is no known prevention for psoriatic arthritis.

Treatments for psoriatic arthritis

The main treatment to reduce joint pain and inflammation is based on the prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs by a specialist. In more severe cases the doctor may resort to drugs known as antirheumatic drugs such as:

  • Leflunomide
  • Methotrexate
  • Sulfasalazine
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There are new drugs that block the appearance of an inflammatory protein, called tumor necrosis factor, are becoming the treatment option for psoriatic arthritis. These new drugs are:

  • Adalimumab
  • Etanercept
  • Golimumab
  • Infliximab

On the other hand, in the face of extreme pain in some joints, the patient may be injected with steroid drugs. In the most extreme cases patients will need to resort to surgery to repair or replace the damaged joints. On the other hand, the specialist doctor can advise a healthy lifestyle combining rest and exercise. For example, physiotherapy can help to increase the movement threshold of the affected joints. It is also advisable to use heat and cold therapy.

Which specialist treats it?

The specialist who treats rheumatoid arthritis disease is the rheumatologist. Top Doctors offers the patient any kind of information in order to facilitate the booking of the patient’s appointment. The patient can choose the specialist that best suits his or her needs on-line.