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Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that occurs in 10 to 30 percent of patients with psoriasis. It is not a type of psoriasis, but a symptom of psoriasis which is classified as a type of arthritis.
Approximately 1 million people in the United States suffer from psoriatic arthritis. Most of them are adults between the ages of 30 to 50. However, psoriatic arthritis can affect juveniles and young people.
"Children with psoriatic arthritis usually develop signs and symptoms of the disease around age 9 or 10. Symptoms are often mild, although some children may have severe and debilitating problems that last into adulthood." (1)
Although not as severe or debilitating as other forms of arthritis, if left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can lead to chronic pain and discomfort.
Causes: The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown. Genetics may play a role since many patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis also have a family member with the condition. It is thought that those who are predisposed to arthritis, will develop psoriatic arthritis.
Diagnosis: No specific tests exist for psoriasis. Blood, x-ray and CT scans tests may help your doctor in assessing your arthritis.(4)
Treatment: Treatment of psoriatic arthritis usually begins with treatment for psoriasis which includes the 3 stage or 1-2-3 approach of:
For more information about this 3-step approach, see Psoriasis Treatment Options
When it comes to specific treatment options for psoriatic arthritis, encouraging progress has been made with biologic response modifiers, also called biologics.
Unlike other medicines which are made from chemical compounds, biologics are made from human or animal proteins. They have been in use for 100s of years but have only recently been steered towards and applied to patients with psoriasis. A new class of medicines from biologics have emerged recently and are proving effective in treating psoriasis.
Two of these new biologics include Enbrel and Humira which have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis.
Article by Jason Morrow,
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