PsA goes beyond skin problems and joint pain.
When you are diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, you may know to expect skin complications and joint pain. Those two symptoms are in the name. In fact, psoriasis and arthritis come from the Greek words for “itch” and “joint,” respectively.
But psoriatic arthritis, or PsA, goes beyond these two symptoms. That’s because this condition causes systemic inflammation throughout the body, which can fuel the development of a variety of symptoms and comorbidities, meaning the presence of two chronic conditions at the same time.
“More than half of patients [with PsA] have more than one additional disease,” says Leah Alon, MD, a rheumatologist at Harlem Health Center and Queens Health Center in New York City. “It’s important to be aware of all the ways psoriatic arthritis can impact your health.”
People with PsA are at an increased risk of the following symptoms and conditions:
Joint pain. This may affect a single joint, or many throughout the body. The inflammation in the joints may result in stiffness, swelling, or pain.
Neck and back pain. People with PsA are at an increased risk of spondylitis, an inflammatory arthritis that causes pain and stiffness in the back.
Dactylitis. This is when the fingers and toes swell up and have a sausage-like appearance.
Tendinitis and fasciitis. “Patients can get soreness where tendons and ligaments connect to the bones,” says Dr. Alon. Common problems include Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis. Find out how to manage foot pain from psoriatic arthritis here.
Red, scaly patches on the skin. Sixty to 80 percent of patients experience psoriasis symptoms before PsA, according to the Arthritis Foundation (AF). However, it’s possible to be diagnosed with psoriasis and PsA at the same time, or even to experience PsA first.
Changes in the fingernails. “Your fingernails and toenails may become thick, ridged, or discolored,” says Dr. Alon.
Vision problems. Inflammation in the eyes can cause pink eye, dry eye syndrome, and a condition called uveitis, which causes pain, redness, and potentially vision loss, according to AF.
Heart disease. Perhaps the biggest health risk among people with PsA is hypertension and heart disease. Because of inflammation, people with PsA are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome—a cluster of risk factors for heart disease including abdominal fat, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, very high triglycerides, and high cholesterol. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death among people with psoriatic arthritis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).
Gastrointestinal problems. Research has found that people with psoriasis and PsA develop inflammatory bowel diseases (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) at higher rates than the general population. This is likely because psoriasis and Crohn’s have similar genetic mutations in common, according to NPF.
Type 2 diabetes. Studies have revealed that people with psoriasis or PsA are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes even if they don’t present other diabetes risk factors, according to a 2012 study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In particular, those with severe psoriasis were 46 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (compared to 11 percent for people with mild psoriasis).
Liver diseases. PsA “might also be linked with a higher risk of certain liver problems, known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease,” says Dr. Alon.
This might feel overwhelming, but luckily, studies have found that treating PsA can help manage inflammation in the body and lower your risk of other complications, such as heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
“Making lifestyle changes—such as losing weight, exercising more, and eating a well-rounded diet full of fruits and veggies and fiber—can help ease many of these psoriatic arthritis comorbidities,” says Dr. Alon. To get started, here are 8 healthy-eating tips to help treat psoriatic arthritis.
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Psoriatic arthritis isn't just
a disease of your skin and joints.
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It's important to be aware of
all the ways psoriatic arthritis
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can impact your health.
00:00:09,690 --> 00:00:15,690
00:00:15,690 --> 00:00:19,323
More than half of patients have
at least one additional disease,
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called comorbidity, that psoriatic
arthritis affects their risk for.
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Psoriatic arthritis causes inflammation
in the joints such us the knees,
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shoulders, and elbows.
00:00:28,790 --> 00:00:30,780
It can affect the single joints or many.
00:00:30,780 --> 00:00:33,830
Stiffness, swelling, and
joint pain are common symptoms.
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People can have neck and back pain as
well as difficulty bending the spine,
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which is called spondylitis.
00:00:40,390 --> 00:00:44,740
Your fingers and toes may swell,
and have a sausage-like appearance,
00:00:44,740 --> 00:00:46,460
this is called dactylitis.
00:00:46,460 --> 00:00:50,080
Patients can get soreness where tendons
and ligaments connect to the bone,
00:00:50,080 --> 00:00:53,420
such as pain in the heel,
called Achilles tendonitis.
00:00:53,420 --> 00:00:56,850
Or pain in the sole of the foot,
called plantar fasciitis.
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Psoriasis can cause rough
red patches on the skin.
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It can sometimes look like silvery scales.
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They tend to occur on the elbows,
knees, hands, and feet.
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Your fingernails and toenails may
become thick, rigid, or discolored.
00:01:10,664 --> 00:01:12,924
Psoriatic arthritis can affect your eyes.
00:01:12,924 --> 00:01:17,516
Up to 25% of people with psoriatic
arthritis get eye inflammation such as
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conjunctivitis or uveitis, which can
cause pain, redness, and vision problems.
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Patients have an increased risk of high
blood pressure and cardiovascular disease,
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such as, heart attacks and strokes,
especially those severe psoriasis.
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That's because inflammation from psoriatic
arthritis can also damage blood vessels.
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You might be more likely to develop
inflammatory bowel disease,
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such as Crohn's disease.
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People with psoriatic arthritis and
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Crohn's disease share
similar genetic mutations.
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People with psoriasis and
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psoriatic arthritis are more likely to
get type II diabetes, and be overweight.
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Making lifestyle changes, such as,
losing weight, exercising more, and
00:01:54,172 --> 00:01:57,195
eating a well-rounded diet full of fruits,
00:01:57,195 --> 00:02:00,831
fiber can help ease many of these
psoriatic arthritis comorbidities.
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Ankylosing spondylitis. Atlanta, GA: Arthritis Foundation. (Accessed on April 21, 2021 at https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/ankylosing-spondylitis/.)
Azfar RS, Seminara NM, Shin DB, Troxel AB, Margolis DJ, Gelfand JM. Increased risk of diabetes and likelihood of receiving diabetes treatment in patients with psoriasis. Arch Dermatol. 2012 Sep;148(9):995-1000.
Beyond joints: how PsA affects the body. Atlanta, GA: Arthritis Foundation. (Accessed on April 21, 2021 at https://www.arthritis.org/toolkits/better-living/about/psoriatic-arthritis/comorbidities.php.)
Cardiovascular disease the leading cause of death for PsA. Portland, OR: National Psoriasis Foundation. (Accessed on April 21, 2021 at https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/cardiovascular-disease-the-leading-cause-of-death-for-psoriatic-arthritis.)
Comorbidities associated with psoriatic disease. Portland, OR: National Psoriasis Foundation. (Accessed on April 21, 2021 at https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/related-conditions.)
Psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis connected to Crohn’s. Portland, OR: National Psoriasis Foundation. (Accessed on April 21, 2021 at https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/psoriasis-psoriatic-arthritis-connected-to-crohns.)Psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Atlanta, GA: Arthritis Foundation. (Accessed on April 21, 2021 at https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/psoriatic-arthritis/symptoms.php.)