How is Psoriatic Arthritis related to Psoriasis?

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is a form of chronic inflammatory arthritis related to psoriasis: Both are chronic autoimmune disorders where the body’s immune response malfunctions and attacks healthy tissues. Approximately 30 percent of individuals with psoriasis, a skin condition that presents with scaly red and white patches, are at greater risk for developing PsA.

Scientists believe that genetics and environmental factors may play a role in developing PsA.

Are there different kinds of psoriatic arthritis?

The most common type of PsA is symmetric Psoriatic Arthritis where joints in the same location on both sides of the body become inflamed and painful at the same time. In asymmetric Psoriatic Arthritis, joints in different part of the body become affected simultaneously. And in Distal Psoriatic Arthritis, the ends of the fingers and toes swell and stiffen, accompanied by pitting and peeling nails.

Some people with PsA develop a mild form of the disease with infrequent flare-ups of symptoms. Others suffer from a more aggressive condition where severe and frequent inflammation leads to debilitating pain and joint damage.

Who do I trust for a PsA diagnosis?

An experienced rheumatologist who specializes in diseases like PsA offers a vast body of knowledge to make an accurate diagnosis. This includes a thorough physical exam, a detailed family and medical history, and a blood test to rule out rheumatoid arthritis, which has similar symptoms to PsA. X-rays or other imaging studies (like Ultrasound) can be taken to determine if a person’s joint damage is consistent with PsA.*

How is PsA treated?**

Your rheumatologist may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (called, “NSAIDs“) to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Additionally, corticosteroids may be taken by mouth or injection to help reduce inflammation.

Conventional Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (called “cDMARDs”) such as methotrexate may be used to reduce the damage from inflammation. The newest biologically-based, targeted medicines (called “bDMARDs” or “biologics”) can dramatically reduce the underlying components which cause inflammation at the cellular level.

PsA is a chronic disease which requires ongoing management by a rheumatologist.  Partnering with your entire healthcare team will help you to manage the twists and turns diseases like this can take.