Some people who have the skin condition psoriasis can develop a special type of arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis. Read on for empowering diet options and treatment tips.
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs in about 15% of people with psoriasis, a skin condition that causes red, inflamed patches on the skin. Typically psoriasis precedes psoriatic arthritis, but occasionally the opposite is true. Though the exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown, scientists believe it may be a combination of genetics (family history) and environmental exposure (such as a viral or bacterial infection) that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells and tissues.
The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis often closely resemble those of rheumatoid arthritis in juvenile and adult populations but may also be characterized by painful, swollen “sausage-like” fingers and toes, and pain in the feet (particularly Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis) and back (particularly an inflammation of the joints between the spinal vertebrae called spondylitis).
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis may be milder than other types of arthritis, affecting only a few joints such as those at the ends of the fingers and toes. Or it may be more severe and cause stiffness, burning, and pain in the lower spine and sacrum. Psoriasis may worsen at the same time that arthritis symptoms flare, and the disease may alternate between periods of remission and flare. Fatigue and anemia are also common.
Early diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis is important to avoid permanent joint damage. Treatment of psoriatic arthritis may include medications such as NSAIDS, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic medications (such as those used for rheumatoid arthritis), drugs to suppress the immune system’s response, TNF-alpha inhibitors to lower inflammation in the body, and corticosteroid injections to immediately decrease swelling in affected joints. In addition, good nutrition and natural remedies such as hot and cold compresses can help you manage your symptoms.
While there is no specific psoriatic arthritis diet, maintaining a healthy weight, getting the right kind and amount of physical activity, and knowing which foods to include and which to avoid can help you to decrease pain and inflammation. Anti-inflammatory food recommendations are similar to those for rheumatoid arthritis as are the foods that seem to contribute to further inflammation.