Roughly 3 percent of the population has psoriasis, an immune system disorder characterized by patches of red, scaly skin, and is the biggest risk factor for developing psoriatic arthritis. If left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can be very damaging, so it’s crucial to be familiar with its symptoms and how to manage them.
Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
Arthritic symptoms usually show up once skin flare-ups have already occurred, but in some cases, joint problems can precede the more typical skin symptoms of psoriasis. Joint pain, stiffness and swelling are the common signs, as well as foot and back pain. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, but at the first sign of even mild joint pain, you should consult your doctor.
How Psoriasis and Arthritis Are Related
It’s estimated that 10 to 30 percent of those with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis. Because psoriasis causes the immune system to attack otherwise healthy cells, it can affect the joints as well as skin cells. Like the skin condition, psoriatic arthritis can occur in flares, meaning that symptoms may become present for a period of time before entering remission again.
While there is no known cure for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, there are medications and treatments that can help to reduce the symptoms and the frequency of flare-ups. If you are experiencing joint pain or swelling along with your psoriasis, it’s important to let your doctor know so that the symptoms don’t become unmanageable.
In addition to talking to your doctor, there are things you can do yourself to help minimize your symptoms. Reducing strain on your joints, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise can protect your joints and keep them flexible.