Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is a chronic, painful inflammatory disease that typically appears in those who already suffer from psoriasis. This debilitating disorder can affect between 10 and 30 percent of those who currently suffer from psoriasis. It can affect both men and women equally between the ages of 20 and 50 years.
For those who don’t know, psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disease categorized by large, inflamed, red patches of skin that appear on the body in large or small amounts. In the case of PsA, it’s the joints that are most affected. And while there is no cure for PsA, there are a number of pharmaceutical and natural treatments available that help control the disease.
Medications for PsA
For those living with PsA, it’s important to understand the treatments available on the market today. Many of these treatments involve medications designed to reduce the severe joint pain caused by the disease. The most common medications include:
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID)
For mild PsA, NSAIDs are used to help slow inflammation. Low or common doses of these anti-inflammatory drugs are usually available over-the-counter and include things like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and other generic brands.
- Traditional Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drug (DMARDs)
DMARDs are a bit more intense and help to either stop or lower the inflammatory process entirely. Their effect is temporary, of course, but can help manage the chronic inflammation. If left unmanaged, the inflammation can result in long-term damage.
These types of medications are also known as glucocorticoids or simply steroids. They are usually given as injections and do much the same as the others by helping to reduce inflammation in the body at the sites of inflammation.
Medication isn’t the only treatment available, either. There are many alternative therapies that work at slowing down the progression of PsA. Some of those therapies include:
- Massage Therapy
Odd as it may sound, there are a number of specialized massage therapists who have been specifically trained to help clients suffering from PsA. These therapists can help relieve joint discomfort and ease muscle tension.
Acupressure has been a popular alternative treatment in dealing with muscle pain for a number of years now. It involves the practitioner putting pressure onto different parts of the body in order to help reduce pain, inflammation, and pressure. It has also been proven to work on PsA.
Another popular alternative therapy is acupuncture, which involves using thin needles in the skin at specific pressure points in order to relieve joint pain. Though it may look painful, acupuncture has been used for thousands of years and has been very successful as an alternative treatment.
Other Natural Remedies
Medicine and massage are only two pieces of the puzzle in relieving PsA. Other natural remedies to consider include:
Turmeric isn’t just a delicious and colorful spice. Studies have also shown that incorporating it into your diet or taking turmeric supplements can decrease joint inflammation specifically.
Ginger has been known as an anti-inflammatory spice for generations now. It’s delicious, spicy, and can easily be incorporated into recipes or drunk as a soothing tea in order to decrease inflammation.
- Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera isn’t just for relieving poison ivy or sunburn. The gel can also provide relief for patches of psoriatic skin. It shouldn’t be eaten, of course, but it can be used topically to soothe your psoriasis or PsA.
What Causes PsA?
Psoriasis and PsA are both pieces of the same autoimmune disease. They both occur when your body’s immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues. We have not yet discovered what chemical or hormonal reaction causes the system to attack itself, but there have been many studies that link PsA to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
PsA: Signs and Symptoms
Those with psoriasis and especially psoriatic lesions on their nails are more likely to develop PsA. Other symptoms to watch out for include:
- Lower back pain
- Extreme fatigue
- Pain in and around the feet and ankles
- Inflamed joints that feel hot to the touch
- Nail separation or pitted nails that appear to be a fungal infection
- Eye irritation and/or inflammation
It’s also important to note that both of these conditions do worsen over time. Still, all hope is not lost. Most people do have periods where their symptoms may improve or even go into remission.