What is psoriatic arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is a condition of joint inflammation associated with the skin disorder psoriasis. Affected joints can become swollen and painful. Sometimes the back can be involved and become stiff.
Skin psoriasis affects around 2-3% of the population; around 10-20% of psoriasis sufferers will be affected by psoriatic arthritis. In most cases, arthritis will develop after the skin disease has been diagnosed, however, in a small number of cases the joint inflammation is the first presentation of the disease.
Psoriatic arthritis can affect many different joints, including fingers, wrists, the spine, feet or neck. It can also affect the eyes, causing a condition called uveitis. It can also be associated with inflamed muscles and tendons.
How is psoriatic arthritis treated?
There is a range of treatments for psoriatic arthritis. Painkillers, such as paracetamol, may be enough to keep on top of mild aches and pains. Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be useful to decrease joint inflammation, e.g. ibuprofen or naproxen.
Where a specific joint is very troublesome, steroid injection directly into the joint may be offered, and this will cause a local reduction in inflammation, thus reducing symptoms.
In some cases, a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) may be offered, such as methotrexate or sulfasalazine. These work by dampening down your body’s immune response, which in turn reduces inflammation in the joints, and will help to prevent further damage to the joints.
For very difficult cases, newer biologic therapies may be considered, for example, adalimumab or etanercept, which also work on the body’s immune system. These can be very effective where other treatments have not worked so well.
Where can I find out more about psoriatic arthritis?
Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance offers advice on symptoms, treatments and self-help information
Versus Arthritis – including diagnosis information, treatment options and living with psoriatic arhtritis