What you Should Know about Psoriatic Arthritis

While there are well over 100 different types of arthritis in existence, unfortunately many people do not even realize that there are other types of arthritis besides rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

One of those little known types of arthritis is known as psoriatic arthritis and it can be as debilitating as some of the more well known varieties of arthritis. So exactly what is psoriatic arthritis and just how does this variety present itself? Just like the name sounds, psoriatic arthritis is associated with psoriasis.

This rather common skin condition is characterized by redness, swelling, inflammation and scaly patches all along the skin. Yes, psoriasis can be found in all populations, but most commonly it is seen most often in the United States among those of Caucasian decent.

The skin condition psoriasis most often affects the scalp, face, navel, tips of the elbows, knees, and areas surrounding the genitals and anus. Health professionals estimate that 10 per cent of all psoriasis patients concurrently develop some form of inflammation in the affected joints. These patients are thus classified as suffering from psoriatic arthritis.

Here’s one of the important things to remember about psoriatic arthritis, if you have already been diagnosed with psoriasis, then you are at a much higher risk for developing psoriatic arthritis. This is particularly true if your arthritis has also impacted your joints. This condition can be quite painful and debilitating without active and aggressive treatment. It seems almost cruel in its onset since it doesn’t seem to strike until later in life, sometimes not striking until you are in your 40s or 50s. And sorry ladies, you don’t get off easy here, psoriatic arthritis is an equal opportunity invader and affects both men and women equally.

The majority of patients experience onset of the diseases at different times. It is common that patients develop psoriasis before experiencing symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Approximately 80 per cent of psoriatic arthritis patients develop psoriasis before the arthritis, but of course everything in life cannot follow a definite pattern, since in some patients, they actually get a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis before actually developing a skin condition. This can make diagnosing the condition a bit more difficult. Unfortunately far too many patients suffer with either the arthritis or the psoriasis for way too long before figuring out that they two go together.

Psoriatic arthritis is a systematic disease just like other forms of arthritis. With any systemic disease, other areas of the body can be attacked as well. So this simply means that you best be on the look out for problems with other body parts. For example, psoriatic arthritis patients can also be at risk for other problems with the kidneys and lungs. Patients may also experience problems with the heart, the eyes and the mouth. Systemic … affecting other areas as well. The whole body is at risk. In severe forms of the disease, other vital organs may also be affected. Like other forms of arthritis (especially reactive arthritis and spondylitis), psoriatic arthritis patients are more prone to experiencing inflammation in the spine. What causes psoriatic arthritis? There are many theories, but the cause remains unknown. Most health professionals agree the disease is probably caused by a combination of various environmental factors. Immunity and genetic factors are probably involved as well. There is a gene marker-HLA-B27-that appears in many patients diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. However, it is not present in all cases.

With psoriatic arthritis, not only does the genetic marker HLA-B27 often show up with these patients, there are also other genetic alterations that may appear. Of course, this just continues to feed into the researchers belief that this variety of arthritis is based in the genes. Another one of the common denominators in the case of psoriatic arthritis is the changes that are seen in the immune system. While we don’t know the exact basis of this, those changes are often seen. Also, remember that simple environmental factors may also be a key component behind the reason why people develop this health condition.

Psoriatic arthritis is a battle that many face each and every day. It really does not matter the reason why you developed this version of arthritis in the first place, what does matter is that you are ready to work cooperatively with your doctor in order to build a treatment plan that you can work with and one that is designed to give you the best level of health that you can enjoy. Generally, your treatment plan will involve one or more drugs. If your symptoms are mild, an over-the-counter product like Advil or Motrin may be enough to ease your pain. However, if the condition is more severe, prescription oral and topical medications may be necessary. 

Psoriatic arthritis does not have to be a harness around your neck, but it certainly will become one if you are passive about it. Get to it and educate yourself about your own health condition.

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