Symptoms and Treatments for Psoriatic Arthritis

20 March 2023

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Patient with Psoriatic Arthritis
Patient with Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects people with psoriasis, a skin condition that causes inflammation. It can cause joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation and can affect various parts of the body.

This disease often makes daily routines difficult, and sometimes sick leave may be necessary. There are also potential risks of developing other health issues such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes.

In rare cases, the condition may even affect the heart, leading to pulmonary fibrosis and heart valve regurgitation, which can have severe long-term effects.

Dr Cheah Chee Kin, who specialises in internal medicine and rheumatology, provides useful information about psoriatic arthritis. He discusses the differences between psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, their symptoms, risk factors, and potential complications, offering important insights into this condition.

Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis:

  • Morning stiffness (lasts more than 30 minutes)
  • Nails pit and flaky skin
  • Asymmetric peripheral joint involvement
  • Can involve peripheral joints such as fingertips
  • May involve axial joints such as spine, pelvis, and lower back
  • Sausage-like swelling
  • Enthesitis, inflammation where tendon attaches to bone
  • May cause inflammatory back pain
  • Diverse symptoms, affecting different joints

How Does Psoriatic Arthritis Affect Daily Life?

Loo Pui Sie is talking about her challenges dealing with Psoriatic Arthritis.
Loo Pui Sie is talking about her challenges dealing with Psoriatic Arthritis.

Pui Sie has been experiencing symptoms of psoriatic arthritis since the age of 12. However, the condition became unbearable when she woke up with back pain for two consecutive weeks.

The diagnosis has had a significant impact on Pui Sie's quality of life, as others' perspectives and lack of understanding of the disease have caused immense pressure.

As a salesperson who interacts with numerous customers, Pui Sie often receives disgusted looks or strange stares when discussing her skin condition. She had to cover her flaky and inflamed skin on her hands and head with long hair and sleeves.

Pui Sie could not sleep for more than 3-5 hours due to the back pain that would wake her up. Despite visiting two specialized orthopedic clinics, Pui Sie was misdiagnosed with a sprain and was required to take painkillers for over a month to manage the pain.

It wasn't until she discovered Dr Cheah that she received a proper diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis.

How are Psoriatic Arthritis and Psoriasis related?

Psoriasis is a type of immune-mediated skin disease that is commonly referred to as “dry eczema” or “scaly eczema.” While psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are separate diseases, they often occur together in some individuals. In fact, up to 30% of people with psoriasis may develop psoriatic arthritis.

People with a strong family history of psoriasis symptoms are 2-3 times more likely to develop psoriatic arthritis. The onset time range can be quite long. Due to the chronic nature of the condition, it can take up to 10-20 years from the beginning of psoriasis to the development of arthritis. However, a certain percentage of patients will develop joint symptoms.

Psoriatic Arthritis vs RA: What's the Difference?

In comparison to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis may be less well-known to the public.

Both conditions are types of immune-mediated inflammatory arthritis that cause joint inflammation. In these conditions, the immune system attacks the joints, leading to symptoms such as joint pain and swelling. If these conditions are not treated, they can cause irreversible joint damage.

However, psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis differ in their genetic backgrounds and structures, which means that their genetic makeup is different. Additionally, psoriatic arthritis has a wider range of symptoms that are not present in rheumatoid arthritis, which can make the diagnosis more difficult. Therefore, diagnosing psoriatic arthritis may take longer due to its diverse symptoms.

Can Psoriatic Arthritis Be Cured?

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition that currently has no known cure. However, their symptoms can be well-managed with the appropriate medication and treatment, allowing them to achieve remission.

Remission means that they will not experience pain, swelling, or inflammation and can live a normal life.

It is important for patients to understand that psoriatic arthritis is a complex condition that requires individualized treatment plans to achieve the best possible outcomes.

They should work closely with their healthcare team to find the most effective treatment options and make any necessary lifestyle changes.

Pui Sie: However, with Dr Cheah's recommended treatments, I can now say that I've recovered up to 80%. I no longer need to cover my face and hands. I can cut my hair short and wear whatever outfits I want. I learned how to manage my symptoms and no longer suffer any pain in the middle of the night.

If you experience any symptoms related to psoriatic arthritis, it is recommended that you seek the diagnosis of a specialist physician as soon as possible. Book an appointment with Dr Cheah Chee Ken now: