Psoriatic Arthritis What is it
Psoriatic arthritis is an arthritis seen in individuals who have psoriasis. And we find that about 30% of individuals with psoriasis may have psoriatic arthritis to varying degrees. When you talk to a rheumatologist, or when you see patients from a rheumatologist, frequently there is a lot of arthritis but very little psoriasis. It may be that there is a subgroup of people with very little skin involvement, but their joints are very affected. Typically, the patient will complain of pain in the joint and stiffness in the morning that may last for half an hour or an hour, and as the day goes on, their symptoms improve.
And there are a number of different subtypes of this arthritisyou can either define them as arthritis occurring along the spine, or arthritis that occurs on the fingers, the distal joints or perhaps on a single joint. And there is often inflammation where tendons are attached to bones. The difference in arthritis and psoriasis in the skin is that the skin can recover. You have a patch of psoriasis, you treat it, and the skin goes back to normal for all intents and purposes. A joint that has been inflamed potentially scars, and you have destruction of collagen that is lifelong. It's very important for us as dermatologists to recognize the early signs of arthritis because we now know there are these biologics, which are probably much better than older drugs, in trying to prevent the destruction of joints.
Psoriatic Arthritis When To See A
So anybody with psoriasis who has a single joint that has become swollen and painful and stiff, and this does not respond to Advil or one of these over the counter antiinflammatories, I think they should see a physician. I think that individuals with psoriasis who have complaints about stiffness or pain in the lower back and loss of mobility because of arthritis in the lower backâ€”they too, need to see a rheumatologist. I'm impressed by how often we see patients who are treated for their psoriasis using a biologic, and after they get better, they say, quot;I never realized how sore, stiff, and uncomfortable I was before that.quot; So we do adapt to the circumstances and often ignore these things.
So my message is, be careful not to ignore the signs of pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints in people who have psoriasis.