What is Psoriatic arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a rheumatoid-like arthritis i.e. an inflammatory arthritis, associated with psoriasis of the skin or nails. Psoriasis is an auto-immune condition that causes red, scaly, dry patches of the skin. Not every person who develops psoriasis develops Psoriatic arthritis, it generally only affects approximately 30% of people with psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis may affect only one side of the body or both.
Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
Common symptoms include:
- Pain in the joints, tendons or ligaments
- Swelling and stiffness of the joints. The fingers and toes are commonly affected along with the sacroiliac joint and spine, although other joints may also be affected.
- Nail pitting
- Rashes or flares on the skin surface
- Eye problems and/or conjunctivitis
Usually, a person will be referred, most commonly by their GP, to a specialist rheumatologist who will make a diagnosis. As there is no specific test for Psoriatic arthritis, the doctor will perform an examination and make a diagnosis based upon the outcomes of a physical exam, personal medical history, family history, possible blood test results (often to rule out Rheumatoid arthritis), and perhaps even imaging tests which may also assist in ruling out other conditions which may be the cause of the symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is no cure, however having a multi-disciplinary team to control the symptoms will often yield the best results. Treatment is generally focused on controlling the levels of inflammation in the affected joints to help reduce joint pain as well as reduce the risk of long-term damage to the joints. Forms of treatment may include prescription medications, which can be given orally, topically, or as an injection; exercise; physical therapies; assistive devices as well as a low-inflammatory diet.
Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) & Biokinetics
Exercise is an important part of the management program for people suffering from Psoriatic arthritis and biokinetics has many benefits:
- Improved Strength – we know that having stronger muscles helps the bones and joints to cope with external stressors. But doing regular strength exercises also helps to improve bone density, which may be affected by the disease.
- Improves ROM – Doing regular stretching and keeping the muscles supple allows one to maintain a greater range of motion in the joints which helps with all ADL’s
- There is a reduction in flares – it has been shown that exercise at a moderate intensity for between 20 and 60minutes boosts the body’s immune response. This helps to reduce the occurrence of flares.
- Reduces fatigue – Exercise has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce feelings of fatigue. Initially, exercise can make one feel more tired, but in the long term, people experience less fatigue when engaging in a regular exercise program. They also tend to have better sleep, which helps to reduce the feelings of fatigue.
- Weight control – along with a healthy eating plan, exercise can help to control one’s weight. Research has suggested that being overweight can lead to higher levels of inflammation in the body, which may also result in more flares of the disease.
It is often difficult to motivate oneself to do exercise, especially when having a flare and the pain levels are high. Having someone to be accountable to, helps to keep the motivation levels up and exercise often helps to reduce pain levels.
If you are suffering from PsA and unsure where to start with your exercises, chat to one of our Biokineticists to help get you started on a tailored exercise program.
The Merck Manual of diagnosis and therapy, 16th edition,
Approach to lower back pain F Moosajee, MB ChB, FCP (SA); A A Kalla, MB ChB, FCP (SA), MD Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa