Psoriatic Arthritis - Describe Your Experience

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What is psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease characterized by a form of inflammation of the skin (psoriasis) and joints (inflammatory arthritis). Psoriasis is a common skin condition affecting 2% of the Caucasian population in the United States. It features patchy, raised, red areas of skin inflammation with scaling. Psoriasis often affects the tips of the elbows and knees, the scalp and ears, the navel, and around the genital areas or anus. Approximately 10%-15% of patients who have psoriasis also develop an associated inflammation of their joints. Patients who have inflammatory arthritis and psoriasis are diagnosed as having psoriatic arthritis.

The onset of psoriatic arthritis generally occurs in the fourth and fifth decades of life. Males and females are affected equally. The skin disease (psoriasis) and the joint disease (arthritis) often appear separately. In fact, the skin disease precedes the arthritis in nearly 80% of patients. However, the arthritis may precede the psoriasis in up to 15% of patients. In some patients, the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis can be difficult if the arthritis precedes psoriasis by many years. In fact, some patients have had arthritis for over 20 years before psoriasis eventually appears! Conversely, patients can have psoriasis for over 20 years prior to the development of arthritis, leading to the ultimate diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis is a systemic rheumatic disease that also can cause inflammation in body tissues away from the joints other than the skin, such as in the eyes, heart, lungs, and kidneys. Psoriatic arthritis shares many features with several other arthritic conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, and arthritis associated with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. All of these conditions can cause inflammation in the spine and other joints, and the eyes, skin, mouth, and various organs. In view of their similarities and tendency to cause inflammation of the spine, these conditions are collectively referred to as "spondyloarthropathies."

Picture of the inflammation of spondyloarthropathy
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See what others are saying

Comment from: KC, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

My psoriatic arthritis started at age 42 with a rash behind my ears, followed by one swollen finger. Weird! Then another finger, with pain always worse in the morning. This went on for months. One day I woke up, and it was in my right jaw. That"s when I got scared because I couldn"t open my mouth to get a toothbrush in there! I went to a rheumatologist, and was started on methotrexate but couldn"t handle the side effects. I"ve been on Humira now for 6 weeks, and the improvement was dramatic and life-changing. I now realize just how exhausted I really was from this disease. I didn"t even know how bad I felt until I felt better. I estimate that I was gradually getting sick for 2 years, in retrospect. I started exercising again after 2 years, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables. I am back to my old self, healthy and active, lots of energy, amazing!

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Comment from: Rhonda j, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 30

I always had a bad scalp and crusty stuff behind my ears. At the age of 23 I got strep throat and had a full body outbreak of psoriasis. My brother had this 6 years before me after a spider bite. At the age of 34 I started falling apart. I painted my pre-kindergarten classroom and the next day I could barely walk. Gabapentin and meloxicam were prescribed. It got a little better, then my jaw started hurting real bad, along with my feet. Eventually my hip joined in; then my fingers and my fingernails started separating from my nail bed. With all of the hurting I blamed it on age and maybe depression - remember "depression hurts - Cymbalta can help?" Well, I tried Cymbalta and no, it didn"t help. I went to another family practitioner and he did blood work and confirmed that it is psoriatic arthritis. I thought finally I know that it"s not in my head - there is something wrong. My inflammation level was double what it should be. After being on Humira and methotrexate, and hydrocodone which I only take when it"s unbearable, it worked for about 3 months but here I am with the hurting worse than what it ever was. Now I am back at square one but even worse and I went to my rheumatologist today, and nope, no magic cure.

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