Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints. This causes the joints to become painful, stiff and often swollen. Usually only people who have a skin disease called psoriasis are affected by psoriatic arthritis. Only one or two out of every 10 people with psoriasis will develop this type of arthritis.
What are the symptoms?
Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint in the body and symptoms can vary from person to person. It can develop slowly with mild symptoms,
or come on quickly and be severe.
The most common symptoms are:
- Pain, swelling and stiffness in one or more joints
- Pain and stiffness in the buttocks, lower back or neck (also known as spondylitis, meaning inflammation of the spine)
- Pain in tendons, such as at the back of the heel or sole of the foot (tendons are the strong cords that attach muscles onto bones)
- Changes in nails, such as thickening, colour change or separation from the skin
- Pain and redness in the eyes.
What causes it?
The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is not known. Genetics, the immune system and environmental factors, such as an infection, may play roles in causing this type of arthritis. This has yet to be proven in research. A certain gene called HLA-B27 is associated with psoriatic arthritis, especially inflammation of the spine. However this is a perfectly normal gene and there are many more people who have this gene and do not get psoriatic arthritis.
What treatments are there for psoriatic arthritis?
Currently there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis. However treatment for psoriatic arthritis has improved dramatically, with new medicines that are extremely helpful in controlling the condition. Your rheumatologist will tailor your treatment to your symptoms and how severe your condition is. There is no way of predicting exactly which treatment will work best for you. Your doctor may need to trial several different treatments before finding the one that is right for you and may include medicines, such as:
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- biological DMARDs.
What can I do?
1. See a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist can diagnose psoriatic arthritis and make sure you get the right treatment to help your symptoms and prevent future problems. If you have psoriatic arthritis and have not seen a rheumatologist, ask your doctor to consider referring you.
2. Learn about psoriatic arthritis and play an active role in your treatment. Not all information you read or hear about is trustworthy so always talk to your doctor or healthcare team about treatments you are thinking about trying. Self-management courses aim to help you develop skills to be actively involved in your healthcare. Contact us on our infoline for details on these courses.
3. Learn ways to manage pain. Contact us for more information on how to manage your pain and to access the Dealing with pain information sheet.
4. Live a healthy life. Stay physically active, eat a healthy diet, stop smoking and reduce stress to help your overall health and wellbeing.
5. Learn how to look after your joints. Contact us for more information on how to look after your joints and to access the Saving energy information sheet.
6. Acknowledge your feelings and seek support. As there is currently no cure for psoriatic arthritis, it is natural to feel scared, frustrated, sad and sometimes angry. Be aware of these feelings and get help if they start affecting your daily life.
Want to know more about psoriatic arthritis?
Contact our free infoline on 1800 011 041 for the latest information, contacts for support groups, exercise programs and arthritis management services.