Navigating and Understanding Testing for PsA

Test results for psoriatic arthritis are at best not easy to understand. Once you have a diagnosis of having psoriatic arthritis there are some housekeeping things to keep track of. Like x-rays and bloodwork. Navigating this area can feel a bit like charting new waters when you first diagnosed. Do not be worried about all this. It's actually great that you are at this point because now you have a baseline. When you first start out it's important for doctors to know what your tests tell them now so they can be used in the future.

How will doctors use x-rays?

Doctors will usually ask for a set of x-rays with psoriatic arthritis to diagnose your condition or just after. These tests are going to be a help not just now but for the future. It give your doctor a point to later compare with. It seems like a lot when you first start out but it is helpful. Doctors can see the swelling or soft tissues, and any joint damage you may have now or later in the future. X-rays let the doctors see if and when you need therapy for your joints and how little or how much medication is helping.  This is a really interesting read about a colleagues x-rays.

What does bloodwork show for psoriatic arthritis?

Blood counts, inflammation markers, and rheumatoid counts are all ways to watch your blood to see how your body is doing now that you have PsA. Blood counts can tell you how your body is reacting to having to an autoimmune disease. Arthritis can make the different components of your blood counts higher or lower. When a doctor looks at them, they can tell if you are stable or in a flare. Knowing your bloodwork helps the doctor make up a therapeutic routine for you. This doesn't mean you have to go to physical therapy. It can mean that the doctor can see how your body is tolerating  medications, physical therapy, or even surgical therapy. 

How do autoimmune factors play a role?

Knowing what autoimmune factors are saying in your blood can also help your doctor make appropriate choices for systemic or joint treatment. In my early days of diagnoses, we didn't have very many options for whole system treatment. Most therapies were applied topically. Other therapies were given in the specific joints like shots of gold or steroid injections. Now there are many more options with medical advances. There are choices like topicals, biologics, steroids, healthy diets, homeopathic choices, and the list is still growing. Taking time to learn about the immune system in testing has advanced all these therapies.

What does this mean for comorbidities?

Unfortunately, one of the many reasons so much testing is done for psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis is because they are related to other diseases and often go along with them. For instance; type 2 diabetes, coronary disease, hearing loss, obesity, and thyroid issues can co-exist with PsA. I have, through the years, been tested and have some of these of diseases. My bloodwork and x-rays have been used time and time again to help with the diagnoses and care I received for the other diseases as well. 

How can understanding testing help?

Now that you know some of the reasons for testing when you have PsA I hope it makes it easier to get your tests done. When I worked as a medical professional, I realized how much much people didn't like or understand what the testing really helped decide. Sharing the knowledge of what part it has to play in your care is something not often mentioned or taken for granted by doctors. They know why they recommend them but often they forget to elaborate to the patient. Learning so much about your testing can be a beacon of hope for new upcoming therapies and better treatment for our psoriatic arthritis world.

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