Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Psoriatic arthritis is a degenerative condition that tends to develop in larger joints in the body, like in your hands or feet, but it can also cause problems for your spine. The condition is linked to psoriasis, in that about 1 in 3 people with psoriasis will develop the condition. Below, we take a closer look at the condition, how it can affect your spine and how it is treated.
Causes and Symptoms of Spinal Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis can affect different joints throughout the body, but when it develops in your spine, shoulders or hips, doctors refer to it as axial arthritis. Axial arthritis develops in about 50 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis, and it can lead to symptoms outside of the axial area, like in your legs and arms. The condition occurs when psoriasis, which is an autoimmune disorder, causes the body to attack healthy tissues in the joint, triggering an inflammatory response from our bodies. This joint inflammation can cause a number of symptoms, including:
- Inhibited range of motion
- Muscle weakness and soreness
- Pain that disrupts sleep
- General fatigue
- Pain that radiates to the arms and legs
Left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can lead to psoriatic spondylitis, which involves inflammation of the joints between your spinal vertebrae. It can also lead to sacroiliitis, which is categorized by inflammation of the joints between your spine and pelvis. Both these conditions can bring about more pain and discomfort, and they can lead to shifted discs or altered gaits, which are even harder to treat.
Diagnosis and Treatment
There are many similarities between psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, as they both cause pain and stiffness in the spinal joints. To determine exactly what you’re dealing with, a spine specialist will conduct a physical exam, review your medical history, take imaging exams and may review blood samples. This will help determine if you’re dealing with the autoimmune disease and the extent of the condition.
From there, treatment plans are made to address psoriatic arthritis. Common treatments that are often used in combination with one another include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Biologic drugs to reduce the onset of flareups
- Corticosteroid injuries
- Physical therapy to maintain flexibility of the spine
- Stretching therapy
- Regular exercise
The sooner you get the condition under control and start treating it, the better your psoriatic arthritis responds, so don’t ignore symptoms. If you believe you’re dealing with psoriatic arthritis, or you’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis and you want to consult with a spine specialist to stay out in front of the condition, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.