Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis are two conditions that you might not necessarily think to be linked, but they are. While not everyone with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis, it is a condition that affects 1 to 2 individuals out if every 1,000 people, and there will be a minimum of 6 new cases of psoriatic arthritis diagnosed in Canada every year. Below, Dr. Ghahary breaks down the difference between these conditions, as well as explains the treatment options that are available for patients.
Psoriasis is a common skin disease (and autoimmune condition) that results in scaly, red or white plaque patches. These patches will typically appear on places such as the elbows, knees, or lower back, and may become red, inflamed, sore, or even itchy. Psoriasis can last for weeks, months, or even years without treatment. A psoriasis flare-up can also be triggered by things like stress, alcohol, and foods that are high in saturated fats, sugar, and refined starches. Injuries and certain medications can also be potential triggers. In mild cases, psoriasis can be treated with topical corticosteroids or retinoids, salicylic acid, as well as moisturizer. If your psoriasis is already severe, has gotten worse, or hasn’t responded to any of the aforementioned treatment methods, then you may need to take medication. However, many of the medications used for psoriasis come with side-effects and are generally only recommended as a last-resort. Because many of these medications can weaken the immune system, they’re usually only prescribed on a short-term basis. You can also reduce the symptoms and flare-ups of psoriasis by making certain lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy, losing weight, and avoiding known triggers.
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that is linked to individuals with psoriasis, and while the exact cause is unknown, some research has found that it may be hereditary, as well as a combination of environmental factors and the individual’s immune system. The most common sign of psoriatic arthritis is pain and stiffness of the joints, which is often worse in the mornings. Joint deformity can also occur. Joints commonly affected by psoriatic arthritis include the finger tips and the spine, as well as other tendon and ligament inflammation. Because there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, treatment is instead focused on reducing the symptoms associated with it and the severity. Common treatment methods include the use of NSAIDs, which will help relieve pain and inflammation, immunosuppressants, biologics, and disease-modifying drugs – also known as DMARDs. Not everyone with psoriatic arthritis will experience the same symptoms or have the same level of pain, therefore your treatment plan is 100% tailored to you and you only.