Psoriatic arthritis: most frequent causes and symptoms. The best treatments to prevent joint pain, which are the most suitable treatments to reduce inflammation in the joints.
Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory disease that mainly affects the joints of individuals with psoriasis, a skin disease whose symptoms include red patches on the skin and scalp that gradually extend and become covered with whitish and dry scales.
The causes of psoriasis arthritis are not yet perfectly known even though it is believed that genetic factors play a fundamental role. This is evidenced by the fact that the appearance of this pathology is much greater in subjects with family members affected by this disease. According to recent statistics, a child who has a psoriatic parent has an average of 1 in 4 chance of developing the same condition.
Psoriatic arthritis, most common forms
There are five clinical variants of psoriatic arthritis, they are distinguished according to the type of joint affected:
- Symmetrical: involves the same joints on both sides of the body. The symptoms are similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Asymmetrical: involves a joint or several joints on one side of the body only
- Distal interphalangeal: involves the joints near the nail area
- Spondylitis: includes the spine and can lead to difficulty and pain in moving
- Mutilant: it is the most severe form of psoriatic arthritis. It can also cause deformation of the hands and feet.
Psoriatic arthritis, symptoms
The most characteristic symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints. The areas most affected are the knees, ankles, hands and spine. Symptoms can be mild or severe and can vary with the person. In some seasons of the year the symptoms may be mild, while in others they may even get worse.
In most cases the most typical manifestations are:
- pain and swelling in the fingers and toes, the classic sausage look
- pain and inflammation at the point where the tendons and ligaments connect to the bone. The areas most affected are the heel or the sole of the foot
- lower back pain with inflammatory nature or buttock pain associated with inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae and sacroiliac joints
Psoriatic arthritis can also affect other organs of the body such as eyes, heart, lungs and kidneys.
Psoriatic arthritis, treatments
There are no specific tests that can confirm the presence of the disease, but some tests can help rule out other forms of arthritis; this is the case of rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
In case of psoriasis associated with joint pain it is important to see a specialist, as the disease can seriously affect the joints causing permanent disability.
There is no treatment to cure psoriatic arthritis, basically the cure consists in reducing the inflammation in the affected joints in order to prevent joint pain or worse disability.
The drugs available today to treat psoriatic arthritis include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids (cortisone): relieve pain and swelling, but can cause side effects
- Background antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): slow disease progression and improve joint function
- Immunosuppressants: they help protect the immune system, which is made vulnerable by psoriatic arthritis.
- Steroid injections: the drug is injected into an affected joint to reduce inflammation faster
Psoriatic arthritis, useful recommendations
What to wear
Prefer cotton fibers as they allow greater transpiration and therefore avoid skin discomfort. For better sleep, opt for loose-fitting cotton or silk garments. This type of fabric helps prevent skin irritation during rest.
Thermotherapy is particularly suitable for relaxing the joints before going to bed. Some benefit from cold packs, while others do the opposite. If desired, you can make alternating cold and hot packs
Skin hydration should not be underestimated. Our recommendation is to apply a good moisturizer every day to keep the skin hydrated. For a natural and effective treatment we recommend coconut oil or shea butter.
Yoga, meditation, and other relaxation methods are really good alternatives to aid sleep. These therapies help relax the joints and slow down the stress caused by symptoms.