A Conversation with Rheumatologist Grace C. Wright on the Effects of PsA

In another article I discussed how I didn’t want to come to terms with the fact I was dealing with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), I was in denial, a place I didn’t mind remaining. I knew the joint pain in my right knee or in my pinky fingers wasn’t from general wear and tear because I was only 27 years old. However, the pain in my knee was something I experienced since I was a teenager every time it was cold outside, so – although an uninvited feeling – it was familiar. If you are a newly diagnosed patient living with PsA the following information will provide more guidance on what to expect and how to prepare for living with PsA.

What to expect with PsA

Dr. Grace C. Wright, a rheumatologist at Langone Medical Center in New York City, reveals people with psoriasis usually encounter the arthritis component between the ages of 30-50, so my increased symptoms came around the time onset is common. Others living with the skin component along with undiagnosed pain often fail to realize they are dealing with more than psoriasis when experiencing discomfort, “For those who have psoriasis for many years they often don’t realize they are developing the arthritis component of their disease and if they do feel the joint pain many think it’s just them getting older…” explains Dr. Wright. It is also common for arthritis in younger people to be misdiagnosed if the pain isn’t significant or continuous, “Often there is a sense that I [referring to the patient] must have sprained something, I must have done something, and unless you have really significant skin manifestations, many patients don’t think that they actually have a new disease…” shares Dr. Wright. The spine and the back are the most common places for pain in individuals experiencing symptoms due to psoriatic disease, “They think that it’s just probably a sprain or that they did something mechanical..” Dr. Wright shares, and she also states that staying on top of these changes with your body are imperative and can be assessed through x-rays and a blood test.

Ignoring the problem won’t fix it

Over time, leaving your PsA untreated could lead to irreversible damage and will only lead to other issues which could have been prevented or at least slowed down. Dr. Wright warns, “You can end up with a condition called dactylitis…” a debilitating symptom of PsA which causes whole fingers and toes to become swollen resembling sausages making them virtually immobile. These implications can be life altering and change a person’s quality of life increasing hardships with mental and emotional health.

Although living with PsA can be challenging there have been several advancements in treatments, which usually work to treat both the symptoms of the skin and the joints, “There are many different types of classes of treatment. We have agents that are oral or pills that can be used to target general inflammation. Then we have agents such as biologics that really target the immune system which targets the cells or molecules in the body that are promoting that inflammation.”

Currently I’m on a treatment that seems to keep both my psoriasis and arthritis in check, although I do experience flares here and there. When did you first encounter PsA and what were your first indications?

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