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What Is Psoriatic Arthritis and How to Treat It

Contrary to popular belief, psoriatic arthritis doesn’t necessarily show up because someone has psoriasis. Occasionally, psoriatic arthritis is experienced before psoriasis appears. Psoriatic arthritis occurs when your body’s immune system attacks healthy cells and tissue. The abnormal immune response causes inflammation in joints and an overproduction of skin cells.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin disease in which the skin becomes inflamed, red, and characterized by shiny, itchy scales. Psoriasis can appear on the scalp, elbows, knees, face, lower back, legs, or arms, and other places. Some cases can be severe while others can be so mild that a person may not even know they have it.

It is suggested that psoriasis occurs from an abnormality in the white blood cells which triggers inflammation of the skin. The inflammation causes the skin to shed rapidly, producing red, silvery scales. Luckily, there are many successful treatments available.


Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms

The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute are skilled in diagnosing and treating both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms we typically look for include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling on any part of your body from your fingertips to your spine. Symptoms range in severity, anywhere from constant pain to occasional flare-ups.

If you experience psoriatic arthritis you are likely to notice swollen fingers and toes, foot pain where the ligaments and tendons attach to your bones, and lower back pain near the spine and pelvis.


How to Treat Psoriatic Arthritis and Psoriasis

With both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, symptoms have periods of time where they improve and where they get worse. While no one specific cure exists, it is important that those affected focus on controlling the presenting symptoms and preventing joint damage.

Treatments for psoriatic arthritis include prescription and non-prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and inflammation, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs to help slow the progression of arthritis, and immunosuppressants to tame your immune system. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is another treatment option that helps reduce pain, tenderness, and swollen joints by regulating immune cells.

Patients will occasionally need to receive steroid injections to reduce joint inflammation, and some may need to undergo joint replacement surgery. When these surgeries become necessary, a prosthetic joint is designed to easily replicate the movement of a normal, healthy joint. Hip and knee joint replacements are the most common, though replacement surgeries can be performed on other joints as well.

Treatments for psoriasis are based on a patient’s age and health, as well as the severity of the condition. Treatments include light therapy, topical medications, exposure to sunlight (in moderation), and oral medications for severe cases. Light therapies can include an excimer laser, designed to clear the affected skin quickly and effectively, or narrowband UVB light therapy designed to slow the rapid growth of skin cells.


We Can Help

If you are in Bloomington, Illinois or the surrounding areas and think you may have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, fill out this form to get in touch with a dermatologist at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute. We’re here to help you with any psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis concerns.

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