Being Aware of Psoriatic Arthritis When You Have Psoriasis
Last updated: October 2021
Getting a diagnosis of psoriasis doesn’t just mean you’ll live with only that condition. There are many comorbidities associated with psoriasis. These comorbidities, in addition to psoriasis itself, can weigh a person down both physically and mentally.
The chronic illness lottery
There’s something else to consider when you have a diagnosis of psoriasis – it’s sister component, psoriatic arthritis. Not every sufferer with psoriasis will be diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, and there are many people with psoriatic arthritis who don’t have psoriasis. It’s a bit like a chronic illness lottery.
According to the national health service in the UK, one in three people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. That means you’ve got a 33% chance of getting that condition along with psoriasis.
Connecting psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is very similar to psoriasis. Both involve healthy cells attacking the immune system. But, rather than plaques forming or skin flaking off, psoriatic arthritis affects the joints and causes them to swell and become painful.
Psoriatic arthritis can also get worse if it’s left untreated. According to the health service in the UK, it’s not clear why some people develop psoriatic arthritis, while others do not. Having psoriasis alone can be enough of a problem for me. I am currently on a biologic injection which, at times after administering, does cause me some problems with fatigue, tiredness, and exhaustion.
However, I am aware that there are plenty of treatment options available for psoriatic arthritis like biologics, just as there are with psoriasis.
Research is important
My medical team has been pretty proactive and trying to spot any signs of psoriatic arthritis early. Things like the pitting of the nails or unusual swelling may mean the development of the condition. I have had pitting in the nails but do not appear, yet anyway, to have psoriatic arthritis.
So, what can you do if you’re worried about comorbidities like psoriatic arthritis? The first thing to do is research, research, research. Being aware of a health condition can really help if it comes around to you actually having it.
There are so many good treatments out there for both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, and being aware of them can be helpful when it comes to liaising with your medical team so you can put your needs and wishes forward in a way that shows you understand the conditions.
Find comfort in community
It would also be helpful to speak to people with the condition. Luckily, Health Union has a great psoriatic arthritis community which can really help with that. But, if you want more, there are lots of people on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram who post about living with psoriatic arthritis and the daily challenges they face with the condition. It can be a real eye-opener reading their stories and seeing how psoriatic arthritis affects them.
While researching, try to keep an open mind. Comorbidities can affect people in different ways. You may have a severe version of psoriasis, but only develop a mild or moderate case of psoriatic arthritis. You may have a mild or moderate version of psoriasis, but develop severe symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.
As I’ve said throughout this piece, there are plenty of medications available. It’s important therefore to get a sense of perspective and try to persevere. You don’t know what the future holds.
Ask the right questions
It's also important to raise concerns with your medical team. If you notice any of the warning signs for psoriatic arthritis, it’s important to let your healthcare professionals know. That way, they can keep tabs on what could eventually lead to a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. The sooner the condition is known, the quicker they can begin treatment to help you.
Again, they are there to help and support you. Ask them questions. Raise any issues. Say you’ve had a chat with someone with psoriatic arthritis, and you’d like to know if there are any signs you may have it. They will want to help you.
No matter where you are at in your psoriasis journey, it’s important to be aware of any other conditions which may affect you. Being aware of psoriatic arthritis can help later down the line if and when the challenge occurs. Stay strong. You’ve got this.
Were you recently diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in addition to your psoriasis? Do you already live with both conditions? How does it impact your daily life?
Does your psoriasis management change with the seasons?