Psoriatic Arthritis

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Overview

Psoriatic arthritis affects some psoriasis patients — a condition of the skin that causes red patches covered with silvery scales. Most people develop psoriasis first and later psoriatic arthritis, but the joint problems can sometimes begin before skin lesions appear. Both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, are characterized by periods of disease flare-ups, alternating with periods of remission.

Causes

This disease is an autoimmune process. Body’s immune system attacks its own cells of the joints and skin. Genetic, as well as environmental factors (physical trauma, infections),  play a role in the development of this disease.

Symptoms

The symptoms appear in a relapsing and remitting pattern. The following are the signs and symptoms associated with this condition:

  • Painful and swollen joints that feel warm to the touch
  • Sausage-like painful swelling of the fingers and toes
  • Pain at the points where tendons attach to the bones – Achilles tendinitis, Plantar fasciitis
  • Pain in the lower back

Diagnosis

No specific test can diagnose psoriatic arthritis. However, the following tests can help distinguish psoriatic arthritis from other types of arthritis:

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • Rheumatoid factor
  • Joint fluid Direct report
  • Joint fluid analysis

Treatment

There is no definite cure for this disease, but the following medications can be used in an acute flare-up:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs
  • Immunosuppressants
  • TNF alpha inhibitors
  • Steroid injections into the joints

Joint replacement surgery is also a choice for when the joint is completely destroyed.

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