Psoriatic arthritis can occur in people with psoriasis – an autoimmune condition that affects the skin. Psoriatic arthritis is unpredictable and tricky since it’s symptoms can change from day today. The disease is rare. It affects from 0.3% to 1% of the population.
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joints. According to NYU Langone Health, there are five types of psoriatic arthritis:
Spondylitic arthritis. It provokes neck, spinal, lower back, and pelvic inflammation.
Arthritis mutilans. This is the rarest type of psoriatic arthritis that damages the joints in the toes and fingers. It can also affect any joints throughout the body. Arthritis mutilans is the most severe type of arthritis that can quickly and severely damage your joints.
Asymmetric oligoarthritis. This is the most common form of psoriatic arthritis that typically affects more than four joints.
Symmetric arthritis. It damages joints on both sides of the body.
Distal interphalangeal predominant psoriatic arthritis. It affects the joints near your nails on both your fingers and toes.
Like other autoimmune conditions, psoriatic arthritis occurs for an unknown reason. Some people are predisposed to this disease. But having a genetic predisposition doesn’t mean you will definitely develop psoriatic arthritis. Environmental factors might also play a role in the development of the condition.
Genetic and environmental factors might be linked to psoriatic arthritis but the biggest risk factor is having psoriasis. 30 percent of psoriasis sufferers will get psoriatic arthritis. Let’s look at the main signs of psoriatic arthritis:
1. Difficulty moving in the morning
Since psoriatic arthritis can provoke joint pain and swelling in the morning and tightness in the muscles and tendons, it might be hard for you to get out of bed. Some studies report that morning pain and stiffness occur in 70 present of people with psoriatic arthritis.
2. Nail changes
About 80 percent of psoriatic arthritis sufferers notice some changes in their nails. Having deep or shallow holes in your nails (also called nail pitting) might indicate inflammation in your tendons that connect with the roots of your nails.
Psoriatic arthritis might also cause your nails to change their color or to separate from the nail bed. They can become yellow or brown. The good news is that doctors can treat these nail problems successfully.
3. Pain in hips and lower back
Many symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are similar to symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but back pain can help distinguish psoriatic arthritis from rheumatoid arthritis. When psoriatic arthritis affects the spine, it also triggers pain in the hips, in the lower back, and in the pelvis. Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect the top of the neck.
Psoriatic arthritis causes inflammation in the sacroiliac joints (the joints that connect your pelvis to the bottom of your spine). This leads to pelvic pain and lower back pain. This symptom makes it more confusing to understand what’s going on in your body.
4. Swollen toes and fingers
Swollen toes and fingers are called dactylitis. Dactylitis is also accompanied by extreme pain and is considered one of the most common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Among pain and swelling, it can make the affected fingers and toes redden and feel warm.
Dactylitis can be accompanied by enthesitis – inflammation of the areas where ligaments or tendons insert into your bone meaning these connective tissues will feel sore and tender. Scientists suggest between 16% and 49% of people with psoriatic arthritis will develop dactylitis. Inflammation caused by dactylitis can cause a number of other symptoms.
5. Pain when rotating your wrist or moving your feet and toes
Pain that occurs when you rotate your wrist or move your feet and toes is called tenosynovitis. Synovitis is a well-known sing of psoriatic arthritis that occurs because of long-term inflammation. It typically affects the tendons of the fingers or/and toes. This is why you feel pain when moving your fingers or toes.
6. Eye problems
Chronic inflammation caused by psoriatic arthritis can also affect your eyes leading to various problems. According to some studies, between 7% and 20% of psoriatic arthritis sufferers are likely to get uveitis. This is a serious type of inflammation that happens in the tissue of the eyewall. It can cause irreversible vision loss. Early warning signs of uveitis include redness of the eyes, light sensitivity, eye pain, and blurry vision.
7. Chronic fatigue
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease meaning your immune system attacks your healthy cells all the time. Chronic overall inflammation can exhaust your body making you feel constantly fatigued. Nearly half of people with psoriatic arthritis experience severe chronic fatigue. In addition, joint pain, reduced mobility, poor sleep due to pain, and anxiety can make your fatigue worse.
8. Elbow pain
Tennis elbow usually occurs in people who do racket sports. Surprisingly, but the condition might also occur in people with psoriatic arthritis. Tennis elbow is linked to the inflammation that occurs in spots where your tendons connect to bones. The pain provoked by a tennis elbow might spread to your forearm and wrist. Pain and weakness can make it difficult to hold something, turn a doorknob, and shake hands or grip an object, according to the MayoClinic.
Having any of these symptoms is a weighty reason to visit your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and care. Don’t delay your appointment since untreated psoriatic arthritis might result in the following complications:
Permanent joint damage
Loss of vision
Fatty liver disease
Psoriatic arthritis is incurable but it can be well-managed by medications, surgical procedures, and steroid injections. Your treatment plan will depend on the type of psoriatic arthritis.
You should follow a healthy lifestyle, that is, maintain an anti-inflammatory diet, get regular exercise, manage your stress levels, give up bad habits, and improve your sleep. With proper management and these lifestyle changes, you can avoid flare-ups of psoriatic arthritis and live a happy life.