Almost everyone knows that psoriasis and arthritis are two different diseases. However, few are aware of a condition known as psoriatic arthritis. In this disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells of the skin to produce the red, scaly rash at the surface and also, attacks the joints which leads to stiffness and swelling. Psoriasis disease affects quite a large majority of people over the world, yet little is known about its connection with arthritis. Let’s take a look at some important facts to know on psoriatic arthritis.
1. Psoriasis does not always develop into arthritis
If you have psoriasis rashes all over your skin, you do not need to worry about it developing into arthritis. Studies show that less than half the people who have psoriasis, get any associated joint pain. While this condition can affect men and women equally, psoriatic arthritis is more common in those who have battled the skin disease for long.
2. Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune condition
Like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis too is an autoimmune condition. An autoimmune disease is one in which the immune system is faulty and attacks healthy cells instead of foreign bodies. There is not much definitive conclusion in medical circles as to why autoimmune diseases affect certain people. However, ignoring psoriatic arthritis can lead to permanent tissue damage.
3. Recognise symptoms of psoriasis
Psoriasis disease is marked by the appearance of red, scaly patches on the skin. These patches itch and can even bleed when dry. Psoriatic arthritis symptoms include the rash as well as a stiffness of joints, backache, swollen fingers and feet, unexplained fatigue, and pitted fingernails. Psoriatic arthritis generally affects the joints in the legs, knees, fingertips, and ankles.
4. Symptoms show up as ‘flares’
Symptoms of psoriasis such as itching and joint pain are never continual. There show up intermittently in episodes known as ‘flares’. These flares represent periods of intense itching, spreading of the rash, shedding of skin, and joint pain in the person affected. Flares can vary in frequency from person to person. There can be months of no symptoms and then suddenly a long stretch of flares. Psoriasis flares are known to be at their worst in winters.
5. Never too young to begin
One of the biggest misconceptions about psoriatic arthritis is that it can only affect older people above the age of 50 years. Yet, psoriasis treatment statistics show that psoriatic arthritis can show up in people as young as in their 20s and 30s. This fact might be shocking, but it is true. In very rare cases, children too have been known to be affected by psoriatic arthritis.
6. There is no cure, only successful control
Just like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis has no definitive cure. Much research is still underway as to what exactly causes this condition in develop in some people and not in others. Till then, the only remedy is following your doctor’s prescriptions to successfully control the effects of psoriasis on your muscles and joints. The prescriptions usually involve anti-inflammatory medicines and vary depending on each case.
7. Certain lifestyle changes are a must
On including anti-inflammatory foods in their diet, psoriasis patients have been known to experience a major relief in symptoms. Some of these foods are green leafy vegetables, celery, salmon, tuna, all kinds of berries, green tea, turmeric, olive oil, and pineapple. Exercise is essential but do not overexert yourself. Your gym instructor will help you with arthritis-friendly stretches to help relieve pain and stay fit.
8. There are different types
This might come as a surprise but there are different types of psoriatic arthritis. Some of the types include symmetric polyarthritis, arthritis mutilans, asymmetric oligoarticular, and spondylitis. It would be very hard for the average person to distinguish between each type so any persistent joint or muscle stiffness should be referred to a doctor for the best treatment.
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