3 Faqs About Psoriatic Arthritis

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, over 8 million people in the United States suffer from psoriasis. This disease is characterized by red, itchy patches on the skin, usually the elbows and knees, but also on the back, scalp, face, and feet. Up to 30% of those who have this skin disease develop psoriatic arthritis. These people not only have sore spots on their skin, but they also suffer from joint problems as well.

1. What Causes Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that is believed to be an autoimmune disease, which means the body's immune system attacks itself. While it's not always known why someone gets psoriatic arthritis, there are some risk factors that can increase one's chances of getting this disease.

Besides having psoriasis, other risk factors include:

  • Family history of the disease
  • Being between the ages of 30 and 50
  • Having a virus or bacterial infection

There are also certain things that can trigger the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. These include skins wounds, stress, cold weather, and certain medications.

2. Can Psoriatic Arthritis Cause Complications?

Common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include pain in the joints, feet, and lower back. Some people also experience swollen fingers and toes, which can lead to deformities in the hands and feet.

Most people will not experience major complications from having the disease. Only about 5% of those with psoriatic arthritis will develop arthritis mutilans, which is a severe type of arthritis that primarily affects the hands and feet. This condition can be prevented if psoriatic arthritis is diagnosed and treated in its early stages.

3. What Psoriatic Arthritis Treatments are Available?

There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis. However, certain treatments can help to alleviate or manage the symptoms. Psoriatic arthritis treatments include over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and immunosuppressants.

Other types of drugs can also help to slow down the progression of the disease so that joints do not become permanently damaged. Besides medications, treatment options include steroid injections and joint replacement surgery.

Many people find that the following lifestyle changes can help to manage their symptoms:

  • Taking care of the joints and being careful not to overuse them
  • Maintaining a healthy weight, so as not to put added strain on the joints
  • Exercise on a regular basis in order to keep the joints flexible

Others use homemade remedies to treat their symptoms, including applying apple cider vinegar to red patches on the scalp, adding oats to a bath to relieve itching, and taking ginger to decrease inflammation. For more information about psoriatic arthritis and available treatment options, contact a clinic such as Sarasota Arthritis Center.