A BRIEF OVERVIEW
About Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic Arthritis is an inflammatory auto-immune arthritis. It affects up to 30% of the nearly 8 million Americans who suffer from Psoriasis. In the same way that Psoriasis mistakenly attacks healthy cells, causing the inflammation that shows on the skin as the flaking, scaling and itch of Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is caused by the same disease mistakenly attacking the joints of the body. This causes pain, swelling, heat and tenderness in the joints. Untreated PsA can lead to permanent joint damage.
Of the 5 types of PsA, the most common type is Symmetric PsA. This type of PsA affects the joints on both sides of the body at the same time. This type is similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis, and affects up to 50% people diagnosed. Among the other types are Assymetric, which is generally mild, and affects fewer joints, without affecting joints on both sides of the body simultaneously. Distal PsA causes the Dactylitis (also known as "sausage digits" because of the appearance of the swelling) in fingers and toes. It is also responsible for finger and toe nail involvement. Spondylitis is the term used for PsA of the back and neck; Arthritis Mutilans, which, thankfully, only affects 5% of those with PsA is the most severe type, and can cause severe deformity in the ends of the fingers and toes.
PsA can be managed, but there is no cure. If you have been diagnosed with PsA, or if you suspect you have it, you will need to see a Rheumatologist as soon as possible to avoid damage to the joints. PsA can take years to diagnose, and permanent damage can happen quickly.