Sausage-like fingers or toes; a red scaly skin rash; pitted nails; and stiff, painful, swollen joints – these are some of the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis (PsA), which Arthritis Ireland is highlighting in a health awareness campaign launched last month.
The patient organisation and research charity is looking to inform people about the autoimmune condition which affects thousands of people in Ireland. It is estimated that up to one-third of people with psoriasis may also develop psoriatic arthritis.
As part of the campaign, the charity is undertaking a major survey on the impact of the disease on people’s lives.
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis that can cause pain, swelling and sometimes damage to any joint in the body. It is not known exactly what causes the disease, although research has shown that genetic and environmental factors can play a role. It can affect people at any age.
Dr Laura Durcan, Consultant Rheumatologist at Beaumont Hospital, has recorded an information talk about PsA, which is available online. “An early diagnosis is key to ensuring that patients have a normal life,” she said, “like having a job, a family, that the person can play sport and socialise. In order to achieve this, it is vital that patients are seen sufficiently early, before irreversible damage sets in.”
Psoriatic arthritis can cause permanent joint damage quickly when not treated. Once damage occurs, it is not reversible and can cause significant pain.
“This is a systemic condition, meaning that over time, inflammation can affect multiple joints and even organs. However, research has confirmed that treating PsA early and aggressively often improves the long-term outcomes and significantly reduces damage,” stated Dr Durcan.