How To Recognize Psoriatic Arthritis And What You Can Do About It
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that is suffered by those who already have psoriasis, which is a skin condition characterized by inflamed and itching skin patches that can appear to a greater or lesser extent anywhere on the body. In PsA, the body’s autoimmune system attacks sufferers’ joints.
The Arthritis Society states that up to 30% of people suffering psoriasis will also experience PsA. In terms of age this condition generally strikes between the ages of 20 and 50, and affects both sexes equally.
The bad news is that there is no outright cure for PsA, but there are many palliative solutions that allow sufferers to control the condition and lead fulfilling lives through the use of both natural and pharmaceutical means.
If you suffer from PsA, you’ll definitely want to ask your physician about the variety of medications that you can be prescribed to mitigate severe joint pain. Some of the most commonly used medications are:
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
These drugs are the first line of defense against pain caused by low levels of PsA; they fight inflammation and can generally be purchased without a prescription. Standard NSAIDs include naproxen, aspirin, ibuprofen and others.
Traditional Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
The aim of this type of drug is to retard or even halt inflammation. This is important, because the damage PsA can do to joints can be long-lasting unless treated.
A.k.a. steroids or glucocorticoids, these drugs are generally delivered via injections and help to fight inflammation across the body.
As well as taking medication, you may wish to consider some alternative ways of combating PsA. There are a number of therapies and remedies that many have found effective. Therapies include:
- Massage therapy: Some massage therapists have specific training for PsA sufferers. Having massage can relax tension in your muscles and offer relief for joint pain.
- Acupressure: Acupressure therapists use pressure points on the body to effect reductions in pressure and pain.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture therapists place small needles in carefully selected pressure points to mitigate pain suffered by PsA patients.
Natural remedies that are available include:
- Ginger: Ginger is noted for its anti-inflammatory action; many sufferers drink ginger tea to benefit from this property.
- Aloe Vera: Gel made from the aloe plant has been shown to offer some sufferers effective treatment for skin that has been inflamed by psoriasis. It is important to note that this is a topical treatment and must not be taken internally.
- Turmeric: Research has demonstrated that adding more turmeric to your food intake or ingesting turmeric capsules can lead to significant decreases in joint inflammation.
Causes of PsA
You might suffer from PsA but be unclear as to what actually caused your condition. Effectively, PsA is caused by the immune system of the body erroneously identifying healthy cells and tissues as being diseased and so attacking them. There is as yet no great clarity as to what triggers such attacks, although it is thought that both environmental and genetic elements play a part. If you already suffer from psoriasis, your risks of developing PsA are greater, particularly if you suffer from pitted nails.
Early Warning Signs
Generally, psoriasis and PsA are conditions that degenerate as time goes on, though some patients experience periods of improvement or even remission. If you believe that you may be developing or likely to develop PsA, you should watch out for the following warning signs/symptoms:
- Pain/swelling in one or several joints
- Pain in/close to ankles and feet
- Inflamed joints that feel hot when you touch them
- Pits in your toenails and fingernails that may resemble fungal infections
- Nail separation, i.e., nails pulling away from the nail bed and dropping off
- Pain in the lower back
- Irritation/inflammation of the eyes
- High levels of serious fatigue