Most people know the term “arthritis,” which directly translates to “joint inflammation”. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are frequently talked about types of arthritis, but there is also a lesser known kind called psoriatic arthritis (PsA) which can also cause pain and make moving around more challenging. People who have PsA will also have a skin condition known as psoriasis.
Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition affecting the skin. It causes red or whitish-silver patches or “plaques” that can feel itchy and dry. These patches can occur anywhere on the body but are commonly found on knees, elbows and bottoms of the feet. Psoriasis can also affect your nails making them thin, weak, brittle, have indentations called “pitting” and may cause yellow or brown discolouration. Psoriasis can affect anyone, but individuals who have weakened immune systems are more at risk. It can also run in families which means if someone closely related to you has or had psoriasis, you are more likely to develop the condition.
One third of individuals who have psoriasis will develop PsA (www.arthritis.org). It can affect large joints and small joints, such as those in your feet, and in particular, those in your toes. Experts are not sure why people who have psoriasis develop PsA but think a certain combination of genes or environmental factors such as stress or infection may make a person more susceptible.
A prompt diagnosis is crucial as undiagnosed PsA can lead to joint destruction, weak bones and damage to important organs in the body.
How does psoriatic arthritis affect you?
If you have psoriasis and start to develop pain in your joints, including those in your feet, make sure to see your doctor, or nurse practitioner right away. They may order x-rays, blood tests and joint fluid evaluations to determine if you have developed PsA.
Sudden onset swelling and inflammation of your toes, also known as dactylitis, can make your toes tight and hard to bend and move. BioPed Chiropodists and Certified Pedorthists will perform a foot and biomechanical assessment to test your joint range of motion and observe the way you walk to identify any areas of concern.
Treating psoriatic arthritis
Your BioPed lower limb clinician will advise on proper footwear to provide cushioning and support. Our Certified Pedorthists can also modify your footwear to better suit your changing feet. Custom foot orthotics and bracing may be needed to increase comfort and protect joints in the feet and lower body. Medication prescribed by your doctor or nurse practitioner may be necessary, and so might surgery as a last resort. Visit one of our BioPed clinicians today if you are suffering with psoriatic arthritis, we can help you!