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What Is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis, a skin condition that causes skin cells to multiply very rapidly. The resulting excess cells accumulate and form bumpy, red skin patches that are covered with silvery-white scales.

Not everyone who has psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis; in those who do, skin lesions typically appear before any arthritis-related joint problems occur.

What are the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis?

In addition to arthritic joint pain, swelling and stiffness, psoriatic arthritis can cause:

  • Achilles tendonitis – Inflammation of the band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to the heel bone
  • Plantar fasciitis– Inflammation of the thick band of tissue that runs across the sole of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes (plantar fascia)
  • Spondylitis – Inflammation of the joints that link the spinal vertebrae
  • Sacroiliitis – Inflammation of the sacroiliac joint between the spine and pelvis
  • Hand and foot pain – Painful, sausage-like swelling of the fingers and toes
  • Inflammation of the eyes – redness, blurry vision.

How is psoriatic arthritis treated?

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition that typically worsens over time. Because there is no cure, the focus of treatment is to control the resulting inflammation and prevent joint damage. The primary form of treatment is drug therapy, which may involve:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and reduce inflammation
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to slow the progression of the arthritis
  • Immunosuppressants to stabilize the overactive immune system
  • TNF-alpha inhibitors and other classes of biologic medications can help reduce pain, morning stiffness, joint tenderness, and most importantly stop disease progression.

Additionally, some patients with psoriatic arthritis benefit from corticosteroid injections, which place a powerful anti-inflammatory drug directly into the painful area of a joint. To address a joint that is severely damaged by psoriatic arthritis, joint replacement surgery may be considered.

If you have psoriasis and notice joint pain, you should see a physician right away. If left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can progress quickly and cause permanent joint damage. You can receive comprehensive and personalized treatment for psoriatic arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions at Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Houston, TX. Contact us to schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist today.