A lot of people know about osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but not many realize that you can develop arthritis from the skin condition known as psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis of the hand is somewhat rare, with around five to twenty percent of people with psoriasis developing arthritis related to it. However, it is common enough that it is very useful for anyone with psoriasis to learn about it, and its symptoms.
What Happens When You Have Psoriatic Arthritis?
If you have psoriasis, you are well aware of its appearance. Your skin takes on a very dry and scaly look, and it can often appear as if you have rashes in many areas of the body. The condition does tend to cause prolonged or even constant irritation to the skin, and it is this sort of irritation that eventually leads to the development of arthritis in the underlying bones and cartilage.
Because arthritis, which means “inflamed joint”, is something that can be due to chronic inflammation, it makes sense that psoriasis might eventually cause problems in the hands and wrists, where it is so prevalent. It does many of the same things that other forms of arthritis do when it does appear in the hands, and will lead to swelling, deformity of the joints, and a lack of stability in the wrist. The swelling of this condition, though, is more pronounced than any other form of arthritis (MayoClinic, 2015).
This is all due to the fact that the psoriatic arthritis is actually causing the lining of the joints to swell and to then degrade and allow bones to erode and rub against one another.
Many patients with psoriatic arthritis display many similar symptoms as those with rheumatoid arthritis. Their hands will appear swollen and with a red discoloration. They can be warm to the touch and will often have difficulty with stiffness and movement. However, unlike rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis is usually asymmetrical (meaning it may appear on one hand and not the other), it causes skin lesions, and it tends to strike the PIP and DIP joint (the middle and end joints), rather than the middle joints or the wrist areas.
Diagnosing and Treating Psoriatic Arthritis
You must visit a hand doctor if you suspect that your psoriasis has now caused you to develop arthritis, especially if others in your family already have this condition. The physician will do a thorough history and exam. They may order a few tests and X-rays to determine if you do have the condition.
Should you be diagnosed with it, your doctor is going to focus on pain relief, alleviation of the swelling and inflammation, and function as the goals of treatment. This means you will work with more than just the hand doctor and may find yourself working with a therapist as well as other specialists. Medications and ongoing therapies are usually the most conservative treatments, and a hand doctor is likely to refrain from surgery until it is absolutely necessary. This is because it is a progressive issue, and surgery may be used as an intervention rather than an initial treatment of symptoms.
Dont hesitate to contact your doctor simply because the sooner you begin your treatment, the better the outcome.
MayoClinic. Psoriatic arthritis: Symptoms. 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/basics/symptoms/con-20015006