Effects of Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that can affect people diagnosed with the skin disorder psoriasis. People with psoriasis experience flare-ups of red, patchy skin or skin lesions. According to the American College of Rheumatology, between 15 and 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop arthritis. In some cases, arthritis is diagnosed before the skin disorder.

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition. Anyone can get it, but it is most often diagnosed in middle age. There is no cure, so treatment is targeted toward symptom management and preventing permanent joint damage.

Psoriatic arthritis affects many parts of the body. Symptoms range from mild to disabling, and may come and go.

Skeletal system

Psoriatic arthritis causes inflammation in the joints. It can affect a single joint or many joints throughout the body. Stiffness, swelling, and joint pain are classic symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Inflammation in the knees or shoulders can limit range of motion, making it hard to move freely. It can cause severe neck and back pain, and make it difficult for the spine to bend (spondylitis).

Imaging tests, like MRI and X-rays can identify the classic signs of arthritis in the joints, and are useful in diagnosing the condition.

Fingers and toes may swell (dactylitis), causing a sausage-like appearance. One of the more common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis is soreness where the tendons and ligaments connect to the bones (enthestitis). This causes pain in the heel (Achilles tendinitis), sole of the foot (plantar fasciitis), and around the elbows.

Low-impact exercise, especially water exercise, can help keep joints flexible. For some people, physical and occupational therapy can strengthen muscles and improve flexibility. Walking is one of the best exercises, and shoe inserts can help lessen impact on joints.

About 5 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis can develop arthritis mutilans, according to the Arthritis Foundation of America. This is a less common, but more severe form of arthritis that can destroy the joints of the hands and feet and cause permanent disfigurement and disability. Medications, like biologics, can prevent this damage.

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