What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a form of joint inflammation that is associated with a scaling skin condition called psoriasis. It is an autoimmune condition similar to rheumatoid arthritis, in which our immune system attacks our joints, causing painful inflammation and joint damage. Men and women are equally affected.
What causes Psoriatic Arthritis?
Like many autoimmune conditions, the exact cause is not known. Studies have shown that both genetic and environmental factors are implicated.
What are the symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis?
PsA can affect any joints. Patients will usually develop joint pain and stiffness that is worse first thing in the morning and gets better as the days goes on. The spine may be involved. Sometimes sausage like swelling may affect an entire finger or toe.
How is Psoriatic Arthritis diagnosed?
PsA is diagnosed based on patients’ symptoms and clinical examination by a doctor, usually in a patient with skin psoriasis, though the skin may not always be involved at the onset of joint inflammation. Blood tests showing elevated inflammatory markers are helpful. Often X-rays may also be needed.
What is the treatment of Psoriatic Arthritis?
The symptoms of PsA can be alleviated, and joint damage can be prevented by prompt and appropriate treatment:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are useful for pain control and reduction of inflammation. Examples include diclofenac and naproxen.
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as methotrexate are usually used to treat Psoriatic arthritis.
- Biologics: These are targeted injectable drugs, which are usually used in patients who do not respond to DMARDs, or who have severe disease.
What should I do if I suspect I have PsA?
Seek a doctor’s advice. You may be referred to a specialist Rheumatologist who will confirm the diagnosis and start you on appropriate treatment.
This condition is managed by the Division of Rheumatology.