Most individuals have heard of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is a special type of arthritis that affects only those who have psoriasis.
Just like treatment plans for psoriasis are designed on an individual basis so are they in the case of those who are suffering from psoriatic arthritis.
Definition of psoriatic arthritis:
A chronic (lifelong) systemic (involving more than one body system) rheumatic disease that is characterized by inflammation of the skin and joints.
The onset of this disease is usually during the ages between 40 and 50. Females as well as males have contracted psoriatic arthritis.
The body parts affected are the elbows, knees, genitals, navel area and the scalp.
Typically patients report having arthritis for a number of years before the psoriasis sets in; even as much as 20 years before. The reverse is also true in that patients can have the diagnosis of psoriasis for many years before they begin to notice the signs of arthritis.
Being that this is a systemic disease it can affect several body systems including the skin, eyes, heart, kidneys, and the lungs.
A lot of the characteristics of psoriatic arthritis are similar to other forms of arthritis including ankylosising spondylitis, arthritis associated with Crohn's disease, reactive arthritis (used to be called Reiter's syndrome) and ulcerative colitis. Because of the similarities that all of these diseases have in common, namely that they all involve the inflammation of eyes, joints and spine; collectively these diseases are referred to as "spondyloarthropathies".
The cause of psoriatic arthritis like the cause of psoriasis is unknown.
The symptoms include inflammation of several joints at one time. The joints are painful, swollen, and hot to the touch and the skin around the joint is red. Typically swellings of fingers and toes causes the digit to look like a sausage.
Inflammation of the spine is often involved including the sacrum area. This inflammation causes pain and stiffness in the lower back, the buttock region as well as the upper back and neck.
Patients with this type of psoriasis can also develop inflammation of tendons called tendinitis. This typically appears behind the heel and pain is felt when walking or climbing stairs.
Chest pain can be experienced if inflammation has occurred in the chest wall and the cartilage that lines the ribs and leading to the sternum (breastbone).
This disease can also cause inflammation of the aorta, eyes, and lungs. Inflammation in the lungs can cause difficulty breathing and chest pain. Inflammation in the eyes if not treated can cause blindness. Inflammation of the aorta can lead to shortness of breath and heart failure.
Individuals with psoriatic arthritis also report having acne and changes in their nails. The changes are pitting and ridges and approximately 80% of patients with psoriatic arthritis experience these nail changes. A very few psoriasis patients who do not have psoriatic arthritis actually develop this symptom. Patients who have psoriatic arthritis often times will also have problems with acne.
Hopefully this article has given you the information you need to know about psoriatic arthritis. Use it as a springboard to discover more about this disease.