A new clinical study revealed that physical trauma increases the risk of psoriatic arthritis, especially in individuals who suffer with psoriasis. It seems that twenty (20%) percent of individuals that suffer with psoriasis may also develop psoriatic arthritis (PsA). This condition causes pain and inflammation in and around smaller joints (usually the fingers and the toes).
Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic arthritis that is directly associated with the skin condition known as psoriasis (dry, red, and itchy patches of skin that are accompanied with silver-colored scales), and it can lead to permanent joint damage. According to research data, approximately 30% of individuals who have psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis.
Joints become inflamed due to psoriatic arthritis, and this is due to an overactive immune system. This type of arthritis usually occurs in patients who have psoriasis (which is a skin condition that is also directly related to the human immune system). Other main symptoms include stiffness and pain in the joints (usually the fingers). Pain is not steady, and it alternates between mild to severe. Often times, psoriatic arthritis is misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or gout.
In many cases, in both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, the flare-ups of the disease come and go, and symptoms go into remission on a regular basis.
An extensive study, that covered the years 1995 to 2003 involved over 70 thousand patients and was conducted worldwide, but mainly in Iceland and with Harvard researchers. More than 15,000 suffered from some type of physical injury, and results showed, that from that number, at least 1,000 patient developed psoriatic arthritis. Basically, the rate of psoriatic arthritis in patients, who incurred physical injury, showed 30 per every 10,000 patient. It showed, that patients who had a previous body injury, were more than 45% more likely to be at risk for psoriatic arthritis. Patients, that suffered a previous joint injury, upped their risk of psoriatic arthritis by fifty (50%) percent.
Minor physical trauma and the PsA connection is not a new revelation. For instance, skin doctors (dermatologists) have known that minor skin injuries (such as sunburn or a scrape) can possibly trigger new areas of psoriasis from emerging. This is commonly known as, in the medical world, as the Koebner Phenomenon. It is now being suggested that joints can be affected with arthritis after an injury to the joint. The theory is being studied, in that the physical trauma to the bone or joint may throw the immune system out of whack, and cause the pain, swelling and stiffness associated with PsA.
Total personal injury is not entirely possible, but if you have psoriasis, it is possible to modify your potential risk for psoriatic arthritis, by implementing the right treatment plan. Discuss available options with your dermatologist, and keep a close track of any changes that may occur in your symptoms.
This sizable study did prove that there is a link between previous bone injury and psoriatic arthritis; however, it was not designed to show a cause and effect relationship. The findings did highlight the fact, that more in depth studies need to be conducted.
There is no cure, but the best way to treat the symptoms is to control the inflammation. The course of treatment you choose will depend on the severity of the condition, and of course, what works for your particular situation. Some medications used to treat this type of chronic inflammation include, but are not limited to:
- NSAIDs (nonsteroidal drugs used specifically for inflammations)
- DMARDs (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs)
- Enzyme inhibitors
- Biologic drug
Exercise is an excellent way to make the muscles surrounding the joints stronger, and this in turn, adds more protection to joints. Low-impact types of exercises are highly recommended, as they will increase range of motion and reduce pain. An added benefit of regular exercise is that stress will be reduced, mental relaxation will increase, and overall quality of sleep will definitely be better.
Some other ways to manage the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and protect joint include:
- Hands on type of therapies, such as massage and acupuncture.
- Cold and heat therapy.
- Devices used to assist movement that relieves pressure on the joints, such as a cane or a walker.
Without the aid of some type of treatment, psoriatic arthritis can become disabling for many patients, therefore, seeking treatment as soon as possible is encouraged to effectively manage psoriatic arthritis.