Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are a chronic illness combo that many don’t know about. Considering that one in three people with psoriasis may develop psoriatic arthritis, it is surprising that more people aren’t aware of the connection. I was diagnosed with psoriasis in 2001. And had I seen a doctor who was well educated in this chronic illness, I may have received my diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis a lot sooner.
Learn more about the connection and talk to your doctor if you suspect you have one or both conditions.
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Medical Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and am by no means issuing medical advice. Always discuss your health concerns with your doctors!
My body presented symptoms of psoriatic arthritis long before I developed a rash from psoriasis. Unfortunately, I was not aware of this form of arthritis. And apparently, neither was the physician who diagnosed me with psoriasis. Think I am kidding?
He laughed and sent me home twice, telling me to use an over-the-counter shampoo for the small rash that was causing discomfort. He didn’t take me seriously until I returned for the third time and was covered head to toe. Even then, he had to leave the exam room to do some research (yes, he admitted it). He was giddy once he realized that I had a (his words) text-book case of psoriasis. He even invited the rest of the doctors and nurses in his practice to have a look. Apparently, none of them had ever seen someone with psoriasis. If this happens to you, RUN!!! At the very least ask for a referral to a dermatologist and rheumatologist.
Instead of researching psoriasis and its symptoms, I followed my doctor’s advice and only treated the rash. I received my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis two years later, only after being referred to a rheumatologist for fibromyalgia. And it was all because I wore open-toed shoes for my visit. My rheumatologist took one look at my toenails and immediately knew what was going on.
How Psoriatic Arthritis is Diagnosed
When my rheumatologist inquired about my symptoms, he asked if I had psoriasis. I told him that I had been diagnosed with it two years earlier, but hadn’t had a breakout in about a year. He proceeded to educate me in a manner that should have been done when originally diagnosed. He shared that the rash may come and go, but the disease was still there. Another tidbit he shared was, while not common, it is possible to have psoriatic arthritis and NOT have psoriasis.
Physicians must rely on the process of elimination to diagnose #psoriaticarthritis. Learn more here!Tweet
There is not a specific test available for psoriatic arthritis. Your rheumatologist will do what mine did, take into account your symptoms, health history, and perform a vast array of tests to rule out other possibilities. Until a psoriatic arthritis diagnostic test is created, our physicians must rely on the process of elimination.
Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms
Psoriatic arthritis symptoms include but are not limited to the following:
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Pain and swelling in tendons
- Joint swelling
- Reduction in range of motion
- Changes in nails, finger, and/or toe. Pitting and/or separating from the nail bed may occur.
- Redness and eye pain.
Keep in mind that psoriatic arthritis symptoms can occur before developing a rash. While commonly experienced in fingers, back, and feet, joint pain, stiffness, and swelling can occur anywhere in your body. Psoriatic arthritis may affect one or both sides of your body.
Tell your doctor immediately if you have psoriasis and begin to experience pain. If untreated, psoriatic arthritis may cause severe damage.
Treatment for Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis
There is no cure for either of these chronic illnesses. With that said, the focus of treatment is to control symptoms, reduce pain, and prevent future damage.
Treatment options include but are not limited to:
- Topicals: There are various over the counter, natural, and prescription options. Most frequently used are corticosteroids and steroids.
- Oral Treatments: Otezla and Xeljanz/Xeljanz XR.
- Phototherapy: Ultraviolet light B, excimer laser, sunlight, PUVA, and tanning beds.
- Systemics: Acitretin (Soriatane) Cyclosporine, Methotrexate
- Biologics: for people with moderate to severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis who have not responded to other forms of treatment. Psoriatic disease biologics are administered via injection or (IV) infusion. Learn more about biologics here.
- Complementary and alternative medicine: These options include but are not limited to nutrition, exercise, herbal remedies, aromatherapy, meditation, mindfulness, acupressure, acupuncture, massage, Reiki, and my personal favorite PEMF therapy.
Talk to your doctor if you have psoriasis and any of the symptoms above. If you are experiencing psoriatic arthritis symptoms, talk to your doctor, and also family members. Ten percent of the population inherits one or more of the genes that create a predisposition to psoriasis. But only 2-3% develop the disease. Knowing if your parents have it could be valuable information for your doctor.sign up using my referral!