Does Psoriatic Arthritis Get Progressively Worse?
Psoriatic arthritis, or PsA, is a chronic, progressive form of arthritis. The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can vary from person to person but typically include joint inflammation, including stiffness and swelling, commonly in the spine, arms, hands, and feet.
Psoriatic arthritis is believed to be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors, though there is no definitive cause known at this time. While symptoms can start mild, they often – though not always – progress to become more severe over time. The reason for this isn’t yet known, though researchers are working to better understand the factors that contribute to disease progression.
While there isn’t currently a cure, there are treatment options that help slow the progression of the disease. Once diagnosed, it’s important to seek treatment early to help prevent further worsening of symptoms.
Stages of Psoriatic Arthritis
Before a patient is formally diagnosed, they are considered to be in a pre-clinical stage. You may notice things don’t quite feel right in this stage, but symptoms can be written off or confused for another health issue. This can be troublesome, as it can delay receiving a diagnosis, which is the first step towards actively treating PsA. Research is underway to pinpoint common pre-clinical symptoms, though it’s thought people who have psoriasis frequently progress to psoriatic arthritis later on.
While symptoms are more noticeable in this stage, it can still be difficult to zero in on a diagnosis, as symptoms and their severity vary from person to person. It can also still be easy to confuse symptoms with another health issue. If you’re experiencing signs of early-stage psoriatic arthritis such as back pain, joint pain, fatigue, reduced range of motion, swelling of fingers or toes, changes in finger or toenails, or a psoriasis skin rash, you should see your doctor; even if they seem unrelated.
Long-term disease progression can also look different from patient to patient. For example, some people experience worsening symptoms only in a particular body area, such as the spine, fingers or toes, skin, ligaments or tendons, or peripherals such as arms, feet, or legs. While these areas of pain can vary, disease progression typically includes common signs, including significant loss of joint mobility, increasingly frequent flare-ups, or permanent bone damage, as determined by an X-ray.
If left untreated long-term, the inflammation from psoriatic arthritic can lead to irreversible joint or bone damage, as prolonged inflammation causes the bone to erode or joints to stiffen.
While disease progression is a serious concern, it doesn’t mean there is nothing that patients can do or that symptoms are guaranteed to worsen. Some people never experience more severe symptoms and can even go into remission at times.
Treatments are available to keep psoriatic arthritis under control or slow disease progression. If you have been diagnosed, be sure to talk to your doctor about available options. Common treatments include using medications such as glucocorticoids, which are effective in reducing inflammation, or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, which can help slow or stop the progression of the inflammation and treat joint pain.
Advanced Rheumatology of Houston has over ten years of experience diagnosing and treating rheumatic and autoimmune conditions. Allow our expert team to help you find the best solution to manage your psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Call (281) 766-7886 to schedule your appointment.