How to Deal with Psoriatic Arthritis
Close to one million Canadians have psoriasis, an autoimmune skin disorder. Perhaps 20 per cent of them will also develop an inflammatory form of arthritis, for reasons that aren’t fully understood. “We know it’s a combination of environmental and genetic factors,” says Dr. Lihi Eder, a staff rheumatologist at Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto. Typical triggers of psoriatic arthritis include obesity and stress on the joints.
Researchers have also found links between psoriatic arthritis and later cardiovascular disease, partly because the chronic inflammation causes changes in blood vessel walls. That’s why it’s critical that people with psoriasis seek a diagnosis if they notice joint pain, swelling and prolonged morning stiffness, says Eder. “If sufferers aren’t treated early enough, there’s more damage and disability, and even an increase in mortality.”
Medications (including cutting-edge biologics) can help control joint inflammation. Eder says that becoming physically active, losing weight and eating better can mitigate future risk of heart disease and increase the chances that a patient will respond well to drug treatment.