Know your condition - Psoriatic Arthritis - JoelvsArthritis
Know your Condition Series Resources and Support Info

Know your condition – Psoriatic Arthritis

To support articles that I write on this website, I will be creating these brief, high-level overviews of specific conditions. These will serve as an anchor point for new readers to refer to. Along with links to other relevant articles.

Please note that I am not medically trained so no medical advice will be offered. The intended audience is those unfamiliar with the condition, newly diagnosed or supporting family members.


What is psoriatic arthritis and who does it affect?

Psoriatic arthritis (often shorted to ‘PsA’) is a type of arthritis that normally impacts people who have the more commonly known psoriasis skin condition. Some people experience psoriasis before inflammation in the joints where others have joint disease years before any obvious rash. Patients with severe psoriasis skin disease are at a higher risk of developing PsA.

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition that once diagnosed, is normally with the patient for life. The condition often progresses over time as the joints are damaged by inflammation.

According to the NHS:

if psoriatic arthritis is diagnosed and treated early, it’s progression can be slowed down and permanent joint damage can be prevented or minimised

NHS Choices, 2020

Psoriatic arthritis can affect people of any age and there is no real preference towards male or female. However, onset is more commonly seen between the ages of 30-50 years of age. It is estimated that although some PsA patients condition is stable, 40-60% of people with PsA develop worsening or more severe symptoms over time.


Related

The symptoms

The most common symptoms of PsA are pain, fatigue, swelling and stiffness in commonly affected joints. These tend to be (but is not limited to):

  • hands
  • feet (including heels)
  • knees
  • hips
  • shoulders

In some patients, physical swelling is not always observed.

Another common symptom of PsA is fatigue. With some patients reporting fatigue to be a greater problem than the pain of the disease. This does vary person to person. Fatigue is believed to be the result of your body’s immune response. As with all forms of arthritis, PsA is understood to be caused by your body mistakenly attacking perfectly health tissue.

Similar to many forms of arthritis, patients often experience periods of improved symptoms (known as remission) and times when the disease is much more active. These active periods are often referred to as ‘flares’ or ‘flare-ups’.

Managing these often weekly changes in your condition is one of the challenges of living with psoriatic arthritis.

Tips to manage your symptoms

Your doctor or rheumatologist will discuss treatments options with you to help manage your condition. Alongside medicine, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle and stay active with psoriatic arthritis. It is much easier to retain movement in affected joints than try and regain it from periods of inactivity.

  • Exercise regularly – this is essential with PsA and helps to keep the affected joints mobile as well as aiding general wellbeing
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet – with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, low in sugar, fat and salt to help combat fatigue.
  • Avoid alcohol where possible.

References and further reading

Arthritis Foundation. Psoriatic arthritis self care. https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/psoriatic-arthritis/self-care.php [Accessed: Nov 2019].

Mayo Clinic. Psoriatic arthritis: Symptoms & causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/symptoms-causes/ [Accessed: Nov 2019].

NHS Choices (2020). Psoriatic arthritis. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/ [Accessed 16 Apr. 2020].

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