Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects the joints in association with nail or skin changes comparable to psoriasis. It is important to note that psoriasis is a prevalent, genetic skin condition that results to grayish-white scales over pinkish or dull-reddish rashes.
The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is not yet fully established. Environmental, genetic and immunological factors might be involved.
How psoriatic arthritis progresses
There are various sub-types of psoriatic arthritis that generates a variety of symptoms and affect different body parts.
- Asymmetric – this is the mildest form of psoriatic arthritis which affects joints only on one side of the body or various joints on each side especially the ankle, knee or wrist. The inflammation and swelling of the tendons in the feet and hands causes the toes and fingers to appear as sausages.
- Distal interphalangeal – some men develop this form which affects the small joints close to the nails in the toes and fingers. In addition, there are changes to the skin and nails.
- Symmetrical – this affects more joints on both sides of the body. It is strikingly comparable to rheumatoid arthritis but the symptoms are milder.
- Arthritis mutilans – this is a rare form in which the small bones in the hands are eroded, resulting to lasting deformity and disability.
- Spondylitis – this causes stiffness and inflammation of the spine especially in the lower region. Movement is progressively difficult and painful.
The objective of treatment is to improve the symptoms and control the inflammation of the joints. The initial treatment aims on reducing the inflammation using anti-inflammatory medications while the skin aspect is managed using topical medications.
In cases where the symptoms are severe, other measures are used such as steroid injections into the affected joints or medications that suppress the immune system.