Believed to be a seronegative spondyloarthropathy, psoriatic arthritis (also known as arthritis psoriatica, arthropathic psoriasis or psoriatic arthropathy) is one of the numerous forms of chronic inflammatory arthritis and it is closely associated with the chronic autoimmune skin condition known as psoriasis.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), approximately fifteen to thirty percent of individuals who have psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis. In most instances although not in all, psoriasis usually precedes psoriatic arthritis by, on the average, ten years. Studies show that more than eighty percent of individuals who have psoriatic arthritis also have psoriatic nail lesions. Nail psoriasis is one of several types of psoriasis which is typically characterized by thickening, ridging and pitting of the finger and toe nails and, in the more severe cases, it can lead to nail loss which is medically known as onycholysis.
Psoriatic arthritis is cyclical with certain periods of time within the cycle being in a calmer or less apparent symptomatic state (remission) while other times within the cycle are fully blown with joint stiffness, swelling, inflammation and pain. Affecting men and women fairly equally, psoriatic arthritis can appear at any age including young children but it usually appears between thirty and fifty.
Various Types of Symptoms
There are many types of psoriatic arthritis and they are all accompanies by symptoms (ranging from mild to severe) of pain, swelling and radiating heat in the affected joints. The five main types of psoriatic arthritis are:
- Symmetric. Symmetric psoriatic arthritis concurrently attacks joints on both sides of the body and it makes up about fifty percent of all psoriatic arthritis patients. Much like rheumatoid arthritis, the symmetric psoriatic arthritis disables roughly fifty percent of patients who have it.
- Asymmetric. Asymmetric psoriatic arthritis most typically affects no more than three joints and is the mildest of all psoriatic arthritis types. Approximately thirty five psoriatic arthritis patients have the asymmetric type of the disease which affects only one side of the body.
- Arthritis mutilans. Arthritis mutilans is extremely aggressive and causes severe joint damage but it only affect about five percent of psoriatic arthritis patients.
- Spondylitis. Spondylitis type of psoriatic arthritis is akin to symmetric psoriatic arthritis and it leads to stiffness of the spine or neck and sometimes of the hands and feet.
- Distal interphalangeal predominant. The distal interphalangeal predominant type of psoriatic arthritis causes stiffness and inflammation of the joints at the tips of fingers and leads to deformities of nails. Approximately five percent of psoriatic arthritis patients have this type of disease.
The causes of psoriatic arthritis have not yet been identified nor is there a known cute for the disease. However, the treatments are wide and varied as they focus on managing of the symptoms, controlling the inflammation and preventing the damage to affected joints.
The medications most commonly used are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, disease modifying antirhematic drugs (DMARDs), immunosuppressant medications and TNF-alpha inhibitors.
Surgery to relieve pain and bring the affected joint to a state of more mobility is recommended in extreme cases where no other treatments seem to help.
Home remedies can be very helpful and they include maintenance of healthy weight, regular exercise routine, hot and cold compresses or packs, behavioral modifications in the mechanical usage of the body, practicing relaxation and rest techniques, ingesting healthy foods rich in vitamins and minerals and adding supplements of beta-cryptoxanthin, zinc, vitamin A, glucosamine in combination with chondroitin as well as fish oils.