Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms How To Treat The Pain

Psoriatic Arthritis SymptomsHow To Treat The Pain

By: - Health & Fitness - July 19, 2011
psoriatic arthritis symptoms how to treat the pain

For people who are suffering from psoriatic arthritis, pain can become a regular part of their daily life. The primary psoriatic arthritis symptoms are joint pain and stiffness along with swelling of the joints in many cases.  Any part of the body can be affected, such as the fingers, knees, spine, neck and all other joints.  Psoriatic arthritis produces symptoms that range from mild to severe.  It is a condition that can disappear for lengthy periods and then sufferers experience flaring of symptoms.  There is no cure for this condition and it will generally worsen over time.  Treatment is aimed at reliving symptoms and slowing the degeneration of affected joints.

If psoriatic arthritis is left untreated, damage to the joints increases exponentially over time and becomes rapidly disabling, as the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis compound.  The swelling of finger and toe joints is characterized by a sausage-like appearance of the digits.  Swelling and deformation of the joints can often occur before other symptoms set in.  Joints on a single side of the body and both sides of the body can be affected.  The joints become warm to the touch and painful and range of motion is affected to varying degrees depending on how severe the flare up is.

Psoriatic arthritis sufferers will experience foot pain at points where ligaments attach to bone as well.  The back of the heel and to sole of the foot are most often affected.  Spondylitis, a degenerative condition of the spine can develop and cause lower back pain that progressively worsens during flare-ups.  Spondylitis is a more severe symptom of psoriatic arthritis which can be expected to worsen to the point of disability without treatment.

If you have psoriasis, you will need to tell your doctor if you are experiencing pain, stiffness, or swelling of any of the joints.  These are psoriatic arthritis symptoms.  The sooner treatment is begun, the more slowly the condition will progress and the easier it will be to relieve symptoms.  This is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system targets the cells of the joints and begins to destroy them, regarding them as foreign invaders.  In this case, the issues are caused by the immune response to psoriasis.  Not everyone with psoriasis develops psoriatic arthritis, but regular check-ups will be necessary to determine if this condition is developing.

The treatments are drug therapies that utilize medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroidal therapies to reduce inflammation.  Treatment with corticosteroids offers two advantages, suppression of the immune response causing the inflammation and direct relief of the inflammatory process itself.  Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are more effective than non-steroidal therapies but cause more side effects like water-retention, muscle loss, weakness, high blood pressure, and elevated blood sugar.  Secondary medications may be prescribed to mitigate these symptoms in the event that continued steroid treatment is necessary.

Medications that suppress immune function are often prescribed to inhibit the progression of joint degeneration.  These include:

  • Azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan)
  • Cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral)
  • Leflunomimide (Arava)

Since these therapies suppress the immune system, patients are more likely to develop infections.  When infections do occur during this type of treatment, it is vital to seek treatment immediately, as this can become life-threatening without intervention.  These medications can cause liver and kidney problems as well.

Drugs that block the inflammatory protein called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) may be recommended by your doctor.  TNF-alpha inhibitors can significantly improve symptoms and slow down the progression of joint damage and improve general psoriasis symptoms.  These drugs include:

  • Adalimumab (Humira)
  • Golimumab (Simponi)
  • Infliximab (Remicade)
  • Etanercept (Enbrel)

These drugs also suppress immune functions so there are significant risks.  Care will need to be followed closely to outweigh benefit versus risks involved.

Other steps that can be taken by those afflicted with symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include learning how to care for the joints.  Learn how to lift and move weight in a safe way to prevent injuries and maintain a healthy bodyweight to reduce stress on the joints.  Exercise regularly, but ask your doctor which types of exercise will be less stressful to the body.  Exercises like biking, walking, swimming and yoga are generally best.

Psoriatic arthritis requires medical treatment to slow its progression, though it does tend to progress over time.  It is wise to prepare for this and take good care of yourself.