What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis which affects the people who suffer from a skin condition called as psoriasis. It is characterized by pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints and may affect any joints of the body.
Psoriatic arthritis usually follows the skin patches, that it develops after some time once the rash is seen on the skin; however in rare cases, arthritis may develop first which is then followed by a skin rash.
Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease and gets worse as the time passes. The symptoms of joints are not present continuously in the affected individual. There are periods when the patient is completely normal without any signs and symptoms while at the other times, the symptoms are worse.
Psoriatic arthritis can affect the joints either on one side of the body or on both the sides.
Common features of psoriatic arthritis are:
- Pain and swelling of the fingers and toes giving them the shape of a sausage. There may be deformities in the hands and feet before other joints are affected.
- Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis: there can be a pain at the heel or on the sole of the foot due to inflammation of the tendons and ligaments.
- Lower backache: due to inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae.
Causes of Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease wherein the immune system of individual attacks the cells of his own body.
Both genetic and environmental triggers play an important role in causing the disease. The family history of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis makes the individual more prone to suffer from the disease.
Environmental Factors and Physical Trauma can trigger Psoriatic Arthritis.
Diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis
Thorough physical examination of the joints and proper history can lead to a correct diagnosis.
Things to be done in a case of psoriatic arthritis:
- Checking of the joints for signs of inflammation like swelling, tenderness, redness and warmth.
- Apply pressure on the Achilles tendon or over the heel region of the patient to check for the tender areas.
- Examine the skin lesions properly including fingernails to see for pitting or other abnormalities.
- X-rays of the joints affected to check for changes in the joints that are present only in psoriatic arthritis and thus help to rule out other forms of arthritis.
- MRI scanning to check for the changes in the tendons and ligaments of the feet and the back.
- Joint fluid analysis to check for uric acid crystals which can be suggestive of gout.
- Blood test to check for RA factor which is present in rheumatoid arthritis.
- Giving proper rest to the joints that are affected.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Regular gentle exercises to keep the joints flexible and moving and to reduce the stiffness.
- Application of cold and hot packs over the joints affected to relieve pain and stiffness of the joints.
- Early morning Stiffness < initial motion > continuous motion
- Tearing pains in tendons and ligaments
- Sensation as if part is stiff and paralysed and constant desire to move the limb.
- > warm application < cold weather, cold in general, dampness
- Itching of Skin > Hot Water
- Stiffness and Swelling in Joints < motion > rest
- < touch
- Sprained Sensation with lot of weakness and heaviness’
- > tight bandaging > hard pressure
- Generally > cold but Psoriatic pains > warmth.
- Psoriatic Arthritis triggered by Injury.
- Feels as if the part is bruised or beaten, searches for soft and comfortable surfaces
- Oversensitivity of Part < touch
- > motion
- > cold
- Stiffness of finger joints
- Shifting and pricking type of pain
- Swelling and pain of finger joints
- > hot water application
- Pain in finger joints < washing hands in cold water
- > warm application
- Pain in finger joints alternating with Gastric complaints
- Thick white coated tongue