Welcome to Ask Joni, an advice column by Joni Kazantzis, the community guide for Bezzy Psoriasis. Joni has lived with psoriasis for over 25 years and is passionate about sharing what she has learned with others. In her column, Joni answers questions sourced directly from community members. To have your questions answered join one of Joni’s nightly live discussions.
“Does psoriasis cause arthritis, and when will I get it?” — Bezzy Psoriasis, community member
According to the CDC, 10% to 20% of people who live with psoriasis eventually develop psoriatic arthritis, (PsA.) This is slightly lower than the figures presented by the National Psoriasis Foundation, which assesses risk at 1 in 3 people, or 30%.
PsA is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that can occur alongside psoriasis. Typically, psoriasis symptoms develop first, but there are instances where PsA develops before psoriasis. There’s also a small percentage of people who are diagnosed with PsA and never develop psoriasis.
There is no specific timeline for when, or if, PsA will develop. For example, I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was 15 years old and then with PsA when I was 37 years old. There are others who develop PsA years after the psoriasis plaques start showing up. Some begin experiencing symptoms of both at the same time.
Inflammation is the common denominator among the two conditions. Inflammation triggers psoriasis and causes the body’s skin cells to develop too quickly causing raised, scaly plaques. In PsA, the inflammation affects your joints causing stiffness, swelling, and pain. Typically, your fingers, toes, joints, and lower back are affected.
There are ways to reduce inflammation in the body which could help ease psoriatic disease symptoms. Some ideas include:
Another side effect caused by inflammation that affects both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is fatigue. Some days it can feel like simple tasks have drained all your energy, but even a nap doesn’t fix that feeling. When you’re feeling that fatigue, listen to your body and adjust your day to accommodate. A few other ways to help manage psoriatic fatigue include:
Both conditions are chronic, but PsA is progressive and can cause permanent destruction of your joints if not treated. If you start feeling any PsA symptoms, talk with your doctor immediately.
There are many ways to treat psoriatic disease, and a few factors can impact that decision. Some considerations include access to insurance or specific coverage that requires you to try specific medications first. Other considerations are the severity of your symptoms, placement of those symptoms, and preference for natural or medical treatments.
These should be discussed with your medical team when determining the best treatment plan for you. There are also prescription treatments that target just psoriasis or just PsA symptoms and others that will target both. You may have to try a few different courses of treatment before finding the one that works for you.
Lifestyle changes also play a role in managing flare-ups. Some changes you can make to help our quality of life include:
The combination of managing psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can be physically challenging and painful, but it can also take a toll on you emotionally.
Treating the physical symptoms is important, but so is ensuring that your mental health is well. One thing that can be beneficial is support from community. Alongside Bezzy Psoriasis, there is also Bezzy PsA which is a community that is specific for PsA. In addition to the incredible connection with others who are living with PsA, there’s great advice, tips, and lots of resources to help manage your conditions.
There is no guarantee that you will develop PsA if you have psoriasis or vice versa. If you do ever develop the other, there’s not a specific timeline for when symptoms will start showing. Knowing what the symptoms are for both and what to do if you start developing them will help you know the next steps to take so that you can treat them early. Treating PsA early on can help manage long-term joint damage, so it’s especially important to take those steps early when symptoms arise.
Medically reviewed on October 05, 2022
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