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Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory or systemic arthritis which affects your joints and connective tissues, and is often found in people with psoriasis of the skin or nails.

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • Stiffness in the morning in two or more joints, usually lasting longer than 45 minutes
  • A skin rash may come first - this may be slight or not obvious and usually on the scalp, back of your forearms or arms, in your belly button or between your buttocks
  • Yellow, pitted, ridged or damaged nails
  • Feel fluish, generally unwell, tired
  • Inflammation of your eye, foot, ankle tendon
  • Itchy or flaky skin
  • Blood test confirmation

Description

Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory or systemic arthritis which affects your joints and connective tissues, and is often found in people with psoriasis of the skin or nails. If you suffer from psoriasis you are more at risk of developing a systemic arthritis, leading to joint problems and deformities which worsen with time. Some people can develop psoriatic arthritis without any obvious skin changes, it may also present as a slight rash which begins years before the development of symptoms and may not be noticed by the sufferer - changes to your nails are a more obvious symptom of this illness.

Advice and Treatment

See you doctor and ask for some blood tests - there are several tests your doctor will ask for to help determine whether you may be suffering from psoriatic arthritis. If there is any suggestion that you might have a systemic arthritis your doctor should refer you to a Rheumatology consultant who will discuss your treatment options. There are around 30 types of systemic inflammatory conditions and it's vital that you get treatment as early as possible. When you begin to develop symptoms you have a 'window of opportunity' which lasts for 12 weeks- if you get treatment during this time you are less likely to suffer long term problems from pain and stiffness.

Other treatments

Exercises given to you by your physiotherapist will help you to reduce stiffness and pain.
Podiatrists and orthotists can assist with biomechanical assesment and modification, occupational therapists can offer you aids to help with daily tasks you find difficult. Your GP or pharmacist are key to monitoring your medication.

As a preventitive measure, it is suggested that an annual assessment for psoriatic arthritis should be offered to anyone with any type of psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis usually develops within 10 years of a diagnosis of psoriatisis so assessments are especially important within this time.

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