How Does Psoriatic Arthritis Affect Your Overall Health?
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: October 2016. | Last updated: July 2023
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic health condition that can have significant long-term health impact that goes beyond the joint pain and swelling. Because PsA is an autoimmune disease, people living with PsA are prone to a number of other complications and other health conditions (comorbidities).
Living with an auto-immune disease
People with an autoimmune disease can have a complex set of symptoms that complicate both diagnosis and treatment options. Autoimmune disease can also mean people will have periods when symptoms get significantly worse, or flare-ups, and periods of remission, when symptoms significantly lessen or seem to disappear. While treatment options depend on the disease, one of the most important treatment goals is to target the specific inflammatory pathway believed to be most important to the disease symptoms and severity.
Recently new treatment options for PsA have been developed that target specific parts of the immune system known as inflammatory pathways. These medications are called biologics and can be an important part of a treatment plan for people with active psoriatic arthritis.
Getting diagnosed and assembling your healthcare team
Depending on how severe your PsA symptoms are, and the range of symptoms you are experiencing, people with PsA may need to be treated by certain types of healthcare providers who specialize in autoimmune, joint, and/or skin conditions. Key members of a PsA patient’s healthcare team may include:
- Primary care physician
Living with PsA can have a significant impact on a person’s life, both physically and emotionally. It is important for your health to assemble a team of healthcare providers that are informed of your health condition to ensure you are aware of and receive the best treatment options.
Psoriasis is a leading complication
Psoriasis is a condition that affects many people who have PsA. Research estimates that about 80% of people with PsA will also have skin symptoms and were diagnosed with psoriasis prior to their PsA diagnosis. Like PsA, psoriasis is an autoimmune condition with symptoms that are caused by inflammation. Both conditions are also chronic, meaning that they are lifelong conditions, even though symptoms may come and go over time.
Related health conditions
PsA is an autoimmune condition in which symptoms are caused by chronic levels of inflammation in the body. While many of the symptoms may be more obvious, like joint pain, swollen joints, and inflamed skin, the inflammatory processes involved in PsA can cause damage to other parts of the body as well. People who have PsA tend to have a higher risk of developing certain other types of health conditions, called comorbidities, many of which are also linked to inflammation in some way.
Research has identified the risk of people with PsA developing one or more comorbidities. These conditions include:
- Heart Disease
- Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Hearing loss
- Eye inflammation
Food and diet considerations
Researchers have not found a direct link between diet and psoriatic arthritis, and there is no specific diet that will cure PsA. However, some people with PsA find that dietary changes can improve their overall health and have a positive impact on their symptoms. Research is beginning to show that diet and food choices can have an important impact on reducing some forms of chronic inflammation.
It is important to talk with your healthcare provider before making dietary changes, particularly any involving vitamins and dietary supplements, to make sure that medications you are taking will not be affected.