Effects of psoriatic arthritis on the body

The effects of psoriatic arthritis (PA), as its name suggests, manifest primarily in the joints. According to the Spanish Foundation of Rheumatology, this disease harms 10% of people with psoriasis, a common skin disorder that accelerates the life cycle of skin cells.

We are facing a pathology that is difficult to classify and with a complex approach, due to the enormous range of clinical presentations that it can adopt. This time we tell you everything you need to know about psoriatic arthritis, focusing on the effects it has on the patient's body.

What is psoriatic arthritis (PAD)?

As we have already said, PA is a form of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis. The injury that occurs in the affected joints is inflammatory., that is, it causes pain, swelling, heat, difficulty of movement and possible subsequent deformity.

Psoriatic arthritis differs from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by the absence of rheumatoid factor, an antibody related to the second pathology. This fact gives PC a distinct entity of its own, although its diagnostic classification remains in doubt.

Here are some statistics that frame this disease at the population level. Epidemiological studies collect data of great interest, among which are the following:

  • Psoriatic arthritis it occurs in 7% to 42% of psoriasis patients.
  • The prevalence —proportion of individuals with the disease in a population— is estimated at 0.58%. However, it could be up to 1%.
  • PA affects men and women equally and an appearance of 6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year is calculated.

According to some studies, it is believed that PA occurs due to a combination of genetic, immune and environmental factors. Unfortunately, the origin of this arthropathy has not yet been fully described.

PA affects the joints, without neglecting the symptoms of psoriasis on the skin and other organs.

To know more: 5 tips to sleep better if you have psoriatic arthritis

First effects presented on the body

According to sources already cited, 67% of patients develop the skin condition – psoriasis – before arthritis, while in 16% of cases both events occur less than a year apart. In the rest of the patients, arthritis occurs before psoriasis more than a year apart.

This means that, in most people, the first effects will be those typical of psoriasis: red spots on the skin covered with thick scales, small epidermal spots, dry and cracked skin and itching, burning or pain in the affected area .

Main effects of psoriatic arthritis

Studies that we have already cited highlight that, in patients under 40 years of age with psoriasis, arthritis takes an average of nine years to appear We remember that it does not occur in all cases. On the other hand, elderly people who develop late psoriasis usually develop this arthritis in less than a year.

Here are some of the most common signs of people with psoriatic arthritis, which are listed in the professional portal of the Mayo Clinic.

1. Swollen fingers and toes

Usually, the joints at the ends of the fingers and toes are usually the most affected. These come in the form of sausage due to local inflammatory processes, a condition known as dactylitis. Up to 40% of patients with PA suffer it.

It should be noted that, in some cases, finger deformities can occur before the appearance of significant joint symptoms. Dactylitis is also caused by other pathologies —such as infections or gout—, so it is not a differential symptom.

2. Foot pain

Psoriatic arthritis can also cause pain at the points where the tendons and ligaments attach to the bone, due to inflammation of their sheaths, in a condition known as tenosynovitis. It is common for this sign to show up on the back of the heel and the sole of the foot.

3. Lower back pain

Spondylitis or arthritis of the spine can also be an effect of PA. In this specific case the joints between the vertebrae become inflamed, which results in stiffness and pain in the lumbar region and the sacrum.

4. Extra-articular manifestations

According to the US National Library of Medicine, some patients with psoriatic arthritis may have inflammation of the eyes. Eye disorders occur between 7% and 16% of cases. Intestinal inflammations and cardiopulmonary deficiencies also occur in advanced stages, although these are much less common.

The effects of psoriatic arthritis are not related to the size of the rash

As indicated by the Spanish Foundation of Rheumatology, The severity of the arthritis is not related to the extent of the skin lesion. We must also remember that all people with psoriatic arthritis develop psoriasis at some point in their life, but not all people with psoriasis develop PA.

Dactylitis can be one of the first signs of PAD, even before joint pain.

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Psoriatic arthritis is chronic

As we have seen, psoriatic arthritis is a pathology that is linked to conventional psoriasis, a skin disorder. Its treatment is based on reducing joint pain and delaying degeneration, but unfortunately, there is no cure for it.

For all these reasons, the person must learn to live with this condition for the rest of his life. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will be the best allies to alleviate the symptoms of the disease and, in the mildest cases, an almost normal life can be led.