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What is Psoriatic Arthritis?


Psoriasis is a disease in which scaly red and white patches develop on the skin. Psoriasis is caused by the body's immune system going into overdrive to attack the skin. Some people with psoriasis can also develop psoriatic arthritis, when the immune system attacks the joints as well, causing inflammation. Like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis symptoms flare and subside, vary from person to person, and even change locations in the same person over time.

Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint in the body, and it may affect just one joint, several joints or multiple joints. For example, it may affect one or both knees. Affected fingers and toes can resemble swollen sausages, a condition often referred to as dactylitis. Finger and toe nails also may be affected.
Recent research suggests that persistent inflammation from psoriatic arthritis causes joint damage later, so early accurate diagnosis is essential. Fortunately, treatments are available and effective for most people.


Who gets psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis usually appears in people between the ages of 30 to 50, but can begin as early as childhood. Men and women are equally at risk. Children with psoriatic arthritis are also at risk to develop uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye).

How is psoriatic arthritis diagnosed?
To diagnose psoriatic arthritis, rheumatologists look for swollen and painful joints, certain patterns of arthritis, and skin and nail changes typical of psoriasis. X-rays often are taken to look for joint damage. MRI, ultrasound or CT scans can be used to look at the joints in more detail.

Blood tests may be done to rule out other types of arthritis that have similar signs and symptoms, including gout, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

How is psoriatic arthritis treated?
Treatment varies depending on the level of pain. Those with very mild arthritis may require treatment only when their joints are painful and may stop therapy when they feel better.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) are used as initial treatment.

If the arthritis does not respond, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs may be prescribed.

Source: http://www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases_And_Conditions/Psoriatic_Arthritis/