Psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can develop in patients who have psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune skin condition that causes rapid skin cell growth and renewal. Psoriatic arthritis is not the same as other forms of arthritis because it involves the skin and it affects the joints differently.
Foods that can trigger or worsen psoriatic arthritis are foods that promote inflammation. Foods to avoid include:
- Foods high in sugars, such as soda, candy, chocolate bars, cookies, cakes, juices, sweetened cereals, and corn syrup
- Fatty red meats
- Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, and white rice
- Soda and sugary beverages
- Processed foods, such as processed meats, fried foods, and refined carbohydrates
- Cured meats
- Salty foods
- Dairy products
- Gluten, found in wheat, barley, and rye
- Casein, a milk derivative
- Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG)
- Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame
- Nightshade vegetables (such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant), beans, and soybeans
- Fatty tissues in the body release proteins that cause inflammation, which can worsen symptoms of inflammation from psoriatic arthritis
- Obesity can make some psoriatic arthritis treatments, including disease-modifying drugs (DMARDs) and biologics, less effective, which may reduce a person’s chances of achieving low disease activity or remission
- Excess weight impacts the joints and can aggravate joint symptoms
What Are Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis?
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include:
- Skin rash (psoriasis)
- Skin warmth and redness
- Red patches of skin with silvery scales (plaques)
- Commonly appears on the scalp, elbows, knees, and around the ears
- Skin itching
- Thickening skin
- Joint pain, swelling, and stiffness
- Often on one side of the body
- Pain is worse in the morning or after resting
- Usually affects large joints of lower extremities such as the knees and ankles but can affect any joint
- Pain and stiffness in the lower back and neck
- Hip, back, and shoulder pain
- Reduced range of motion in the joints
- Heel and foot pain
- Swelling of fingers and/or toes
- Nail problems
- Separating from nail bed
- Eye inflammation such as pink eye (conjunctivitis) and other infections
What Causes Psoriatic Arthritis?
The cause of psoriatic arthritis is not known, but it is thought that genetic, immunologic, and environmental factors play a role.
About 40% of people with psoriatic arthritis have family members with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.
How Is Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosed?
Psoriatic arthritis is diagnosed with a patient history, physical examination, and tests. These tests include:
What Is the Treatment for Psoriatic Arthritis?
There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, but treatment can help relieve symptoms and prevent further joint damage. Treatment for psoriatic arthritis depends on the severity of the condition and how many joints are affected.
For mild psoriatic arthritis, medications to treat pain and inflammation may be used such as:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Treatment for more severe cases of psoriatic arthritis may include:
- Corticosteroid injections into the joints
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Antitumor necrosis factor (TNF) agents (also called biologics)
- Topical treatments for psoriasis symptoms
- Over-the-counter or prescription salicylic acid creams, gels, and shampoos
- Prescription vitamin D creams
- Retinoid and steroid creams
- Cyclosporine (used for severe cases that do not respond to other systemic treatments)
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