When Psoriasis Becomes Psoriatic Arthritis: What You Need to Know

Author: Abby Cate, Pharmacy Manager at HPS Des Moines psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) occurs in nearly 1 million people across the U.S. This progressive disease affects your body both inside and out, causing joint pain and skin rashes. It’s important to understand PsA, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis. When psoriasis becomes psoriatic arthritis, here’s what you need to know.

The Link Between Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by dry scales and itchy, red patches. Arthritis is a general term to describe joint inflammation, pain and stiffness. PsA is a form of arthritis that can develop in people who have psoriasis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, PsA typically develops within 10 years after psoriasis symptoms start. Roughly 30 percent of people who have psoriasis will also develop psoriatic arthritis.

Recognizing Psoriatic Arthritis

People with psoriasis typically already have red, dry patches of skin covered with silvery scales. If they start to notice joint pain, swelling, morning stiffness, a reduced range of motion and other symptoms, it might be a sign of PsA. In most cases of PsA, there are noticeable skin lesions before joint pain develops, but sometimes the arthritis symptoms come first.

PsA can occur at any of your joints, but some areas are more common. Inflammation in your fingers and toes can be one of the first signs of PsA. Known as “sausage digitis” or dactylitis, PsA affects your fingers and toes differently on each side of your body. This means you may have swollen fingers on your left hand without experiencing any symptoms on your right hand, for example. You may also notice PsA inflammation in your spinal column, the bottoms of your feet or your Achilles’ tendons.

Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment

There are many different medications used to treat PsA symptoms and relieve painful, swollen joints. Many people with PsA will see a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating and diagnosing arthritis and other diseases that affect your joints and muscles. Your pharmacist at Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) will work with you and your healthcare team to establish the best medication therapy to treat your PsA.

In addition to medication therapy, there are many ways to manage PsA and prevent flare-ups. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends physical and occupational therapy to help improve your range of motion and make everyday tasks easier. Low-impact exercises that are easy on your joints can be helpful to keep your body strong and increase mobility. Walking, swimming, cycling and yoga may be good exercises for people with PsA. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Psoriatic Arthritis and Other Chronic Conditions

People with PsA may have a higher risk of developing other chronic conditions such as vision complications, cardiovascular disease, Crohn’s disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s important to work with your HPS pharmacist and your healthcare team to manage your PsA and make healthy choices to prevent other chronic conditions.

Talk to your pharmacist at HPS if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Some medications used to treat PsA are not recommended for expectant mothers. Many women experience a change in PsA symptoms during and after pregnancy. Your HPS pharmacist will work with you and your healthcare provider to develop a PsA treatment plan that’s safe for both you and your baby.

Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions Helps Manage Psoriatic Arthritis

Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) helps you manage PsA with a whole-health approach. In addition to exceptional patient care and clinical support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, HPS patients benefit from personalized nutrition consultations, thorough benefit investigations, trustworthy patient education resources and the full support of Hy-Vee health and wellness programs.