Are You Having Fun Yet? Pay Attention To Body Signals And Enjoy The Rest Of Your Summer! Since August is both Pain and Psoriasis Awareness month (Fun Month Right?) I wanted to comment on both of these and their associated manifestations, as well as offer some alternative therapeutic options. Pain is universally understood as a signal of disease and often the most common symptom that brings a patient to see their doctor. Pain is an unpleasant sensation localized to a part of the body. It is described with terms like burning, stabbing, twisting, tearing, squeezing, or an emotional reaction like terrifying, nauseating or sickening. Any pain of moderate to high intensity is accompanied by anxiety. It is the task of medicine to preserve and restore health and to relieve suffering, i.e. pain.
Pain can be emotional, physical, psychological or spiritual. When pain is acute it is accompanied by a stress response, which produces increased blood pressure, heart rate, pupil diameter and plasma Cortisol levels. Psoriasis itself is an emotional and painful disease (in more ways than one), let alone factor in its relationship to psoriatic arthritis in susceptible individuals. The good news is by making lifestyle changes today, many of the symptoms can be reduced or in some cases alleviated all together.
Psoriatic Arthritis And Treatment Options
Psoriatic arthritis occurs in 10-30% of people living with psoriasis. It is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints and connective tissue that can be very painful and even disabling depending on the severity of it and how early the diagnosis is made. The cause of psoriatic arthritis is not known, however, the immune system, genetics and environmental factors (emotional stress, toxins, etc.) are thought to be contributors. The onset of psoriatic arthritis typically appears between the ages of 30-50; earlier onset may result in a more severe form of the disease.
A person can have psoriasis for up to 20 years before ever developing symptoms of psoriatic arthritis; however, on average the symptoms begin to show 10 years after the first signs of psoriasis. Although 85% of patients have psoriasis prior to psoriatic arthritis, there are a small number of cases when symptoms of psoriatic arthritis appear first. Early diagnosis will allow for the best possible prognosis. The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are generalized fatigue, nail changes such as pitted nail beds, redness and pain of the eye, swollen fingers or toes; along with joint stiffness, pain and tenderness, as well as sensitivity around the surrounding tissue of the joints. If you have psoriasis and are experiencing any of these symptoms, please inform your dermatologist or general practitioner. He or she will refer you to a physician who specializes in arthritis, often a rheumatologist.
There is no single test that can diagnose a person with psoriatic arthritis. Often it is diagnosed through a process of elimination and observation of symptoms. Many of the traditional tests to diagnose various forms of arthritis do not show conclusively that someone is suffering from psoriatic a rthritis; they do, however, conclude that the patient is not suffering from some other form of arthritis.
Traditional treatment of the condition includes: anti-inflammatory medications and disease-modifying medicines such as methotrexate. Other treatments include: diet, exercise, climate change, surgery, physical therapy, splints and nutritional supplementation.
Another important note is that since part of the cause is due to environmental factors such as a build up of toxins (from smoking, alcohol consumption, pollutants and pharmaceutical medications) many of those who suffer from psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis improve with cleansing and detoxifying the liver.
Lastly, the control of psoriasis symptoms may also help to control symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and early diagnosis is your best defense. Don’t ignore symptoms of any kind and actively seek treatment for both.