Psoriasis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the U.S. that affects about 7.5 million Americans. Around 30 percent of those with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. This painful disease causes swelling and pain in the joints.
If not treated, psoriatic arthritis can cause permanent joint damage. Let’s review the signs of psoriatic arthritis and how to treat these symptoms.
Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis Overview
Some of the most common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include stiffness, swelling, and joint pain. These symptoms can affect any area of your body, including your spine or your fingertips. Symptoms can be mild or severe.
There are disease flares that can alternate and give people time with remission. Unfortunately, there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, so it’s important to control your symptoms to prevent irreversible damage to your joints. Without any treatment, this arthritis can be debilitating and cause other health problems.
Psoriatic arthritis can affect your joints on all sides of your body or just the one side. Here is some more information on the symptoms.
Joint Warmth and Swelling
A common sign of psoriatic arthritis is swelling and inflammation in your joints. These joints may also be warm to the touch.
The smaller joints are typically affected first like your fingers and toes. Fingers and toes may resemble sausages.
You will then typically notice the swelling in your hands, ankles, hips, elbows, feet, and knees. More than one joint may be inflamed at the same time.
Another sign of psoriatic arthritis is noticing a reduced range of motion in your joints. This means you may find it hard to bend your knees, extend your arms, or bend over. You may also have problems moving and using your fingers, which can be difficult with writing, drawing, or typing.
You may have an increased feeling of fatigue, which can range from exhaustion to extra tiredness. People with psoriatic arthritis may have trouble making it through the day without a nap.
Changes to your nails is an early sign of psoriatic arthritis. You may have pitting in your nails. Pitted nails look dented or bumpy.
Psoriasis can also affect nails and resemble a fungal infection. People that have changes in their nails from psoriasis may have an increased risk of developing psoriatic arthritis.
Loss of Nails
Nails can also separate from your nail bed or fall off. This is another sign of psoriatic arthritis. This can happen whether the nails pit or not.
People with psoriatic arthritis can also develop enthesitis. This causes pain in areas where tendons and bones attach. People can develop pain, swelling, and tenderness on the bottom of their feet or the heel where the Achilles tendon is.
You could also experience eye inflammation and redness along with other eye problems if you have psoriatic arthritis. When your eyes are inflamed, they can be red, painful, or irritated around the eye or in the eye. You may also notice vision changes.
Psoriatic arthritis can lead to an additional condition that causes your joints in your spine to swell. These sacroiliac joints and the pelvis may fuse together.
Stiff joints are another common symptom. Typically, the joints are worse in the morning and loosen up as the day moves on.
This is not a common symptom, but some people with psoriatic arthritis experience shortness of breath and chest pain. This happens when the cartilage that attaches your ribs and breastbone becomes inflamed. Your lungs and the aorta can also be affected when this happens making it harder to breathe and giving you chest pain.
Treating psoriatic arthritis can help keep joints moving properly, reduce swelling, and relieve pain. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan based on the seriousness of your psoriatic arthritis and your body’s reaction to various treatments.
There is no cure, so you need to control your inflammation on the affected joints. This helps prevent pain and damage which can lead to disabilities.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) slow down the progression of psoriatic arthritis. This saves the joints and tissues from further damage. Common drugs in this category include Arava, Azulfidine, Trexall, and Otrexup.
Immunosuppressants tame the immune system to control the progression of psoriatic arthritis. Common medications in this category include Gengraf, Sandimmune, Neoral, Azasan, and Imuran.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) relieves pain. You can buy some of these medications over the counter like naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). Your doctor can prescribe stronger NSAIDs for pain.
Biologic drugs can slow down the progression of arthritis. This drug can be injected or given intravenously.
There is a newer oral medication that decreases enzymes in the body that control cell inflammation. The name brand of this medication is Otezla.
Your doctor may also prescribe steroid injections to help manage the pain. This medication reduces inflammation quickly. The medication is injected directly into the affected joint.
If joints are severely damaged, you may have to replace them. These joints can be replaced with prostheses made from either plastic or metal.
There are some things you can do at home to help control your psoriatic arthritis. First, it’s important to keep a healthy weight. This places less strain on your joints and can also increase your mobility and energy.
You should also exercise regularly to keep your joints and muscles strong. You could try some exercises that are not as hard on your joints like swimming, walking, or biking.
You should also limit your alcohol use. Alcohol increases your risk of psoriasis and can decrease the effectiveness of your treatment. You should also stop smoking because it could make your symptoms worse.
Make sure you give yourself time to rest and relax several times throughout the day to avoid becoming too tired.
Looking for Treatment?
Now that you know the signs of psoriatic arthritis, you can get early detection and treatment if you are suffering from any of these symptoms. Contact us today to discuss your treatment options and help relieve your pain.