When psoriasis attacks the skin, little do the patients know that arthritis can soon follow. Psoriatic arthritis is most commonly diagnosed about 10 years after the first signs of skin lesions are noted. While the most common age group affected by this form of arthritis falls between 30 and 50, there are children who have been diagnosed with the condition. In rare cases, psoriatic arthritis is found in people who have never been affected by psoriasis.
Unlike many other inflammation based diseases, psoriatic arthritis is not affected by gender. Both males and females are diagnosed with the condition equally. Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, RA, inflammation can occur in the joints of the body as well as organs and other tissues. The eyes, heart, lungs and kidneys are most often affected. The fact that psoriatic arthritis is associated with psoriasis does not mean the red, flaky skin associated with the skin disease will affect the organs. Only the inflammation associated with the arthritis spreads beyond the skin.
The spine can also be affected by inflammation associated with psoriatic arthritis. Spinal affects occur in the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine and sacroiliac joints.
Why does psoriatic arthritis occur?
There is no known cause for psoriatic arthritis. Doctors believe a combination of factors can lead to the development of this form of arthritis as is also common with other forms. These factors can include genetic predisposition and immune factors. The environmental choices in life like smoking, drinking and diet may also play a role.
How is psoriatic arthritis diagnosed?
In patients with psoriasis, a test to rule out other forms of arthritis can be used to narrow down the potential diagnosis. A blood test can also be used for diagnosis through detection of the HLA-B27 gene. However, this test is not 100% reliable and can only be used in patients who are affected by psoriatic arthritis and inflammation of the spine.
What are the effects of psoriatic arthritis on the body?
The most dangerous symptom is inflammation of the organs. Heart and lung function can be greatly decreased due to prolonged inflammation. When inflammation affects the aortic valve, leaking can occur which can lead to heart failure. Blindness has also been known to occur when inflammation of the eyes is left untreated. The most common effects on the body are swelling and pain.
How can psoriatic arthritis be treated?
The treatments for psoriatic arthritis include anti-inflammatory medications and exercise. If patients are overweight, a reduced calorie diet may be order to reduce weight. Being overweight is an inflammatory condition which means even more inflammation on the joints and organs in addition to the effects of psoriatic arthritis.
Supplemental anti-oxidants may also be used to fight off free radical damage. Free radicals cause inflammation by taking over healthy cells and reproducing. Anti-oxidants work with the body's immune system to kill off the free radical cells giving healthy cells free reign to rebuild and heal.
All types of arthritis are characterized by inflammation. Some doctors believe eliminating inflammation from the body will improve health enough to fight off certain diseases and autoimmune responses such as arthritis.
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