For those suffering from psoriasis, a serious condition of the skin, there exists the potential to develop psoriatic arthritis. While no cure exits for this condition, it is imperative that the focus remain on the symptoms and how to prevent damage to the joints. Without treatment and a commitment to regular exercise, psoriatic arthritis can be debilitating.
Although sufferers of psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis may recognize periods of remission or times when their symptoms seem to improve, both diseases are chronic in nature and tend to worsen over time. Frequently, both the skin and the joint issues can appear and disappear simultaneously.
Among the main symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. These issues can affect any part of the body, even the fingertips and the spine. They can range in degree from mild to severe. If you are experiencing psoriatic arthritis, you may notice pain in the affected joints or swollen, warm-to-the-touch joints.
The medical community recognizes five types of psoriatic arthritis. The mildest form, asymmetric psoriatic arthritis, generally affects the joints on one side of the body only or different joints on each side, and can include the joints of the hip, ankle, or wrist. Typically, less than five joints are affected, and they are usually tender and red.
Symmetric psoriatic arthritis involves pain in the joints on both sides of the body, and can affect more than five joints at a time on both sides of the body. This is seen more frequently in women than in men.
Distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint predominant psoriatic arthritis is the rarest form and is usually only present in men. It affects the joints near the nails in the fingers and in the toes. The nails may show signs of psoriasis that include thickening, pitting, and discoloration.
Another type of psoriatic arthritis is spondylitis, which can create inflammation in the spine, as well as in the neck, lower back, and the sacroiliac joints. The inflammation can also affect the ligaments and tendons that attach to the spine. With the progression of the disease, movement is painful and challenging.