Psoriatic Arthritis Guide: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Diet

Psoriatic comes with more than just rashes, but in debilitating psoriatic arthritis as well.

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Psoriatic Arthritis Diet and More: What You Need to Know About Psoriatic Arthritis

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

While psoriasis mostly affects the skin, many psoriasis patients also develop inflammatory arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. Like psoriasis on the skin, psoriatic arthritis causes the immune system to identify healthy cells as invaders, attacking them.

In psoriasis, the immune system attacks healthy cells, it leads to inflammation in the body. This causes stiffness, swelling, and joint pain that may lead to permanent damage if left alone.

What is Psoriasis? Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that is commonly associated with scaly rashes and weak nails. It occurs when the immune system attacks healthy tissue by mistake.

What Causes Psoriatic Arthritis?

Triggers of psoriatic arthritis attacks vary from case to case, and even in every patient. This makes it crucial for patients to track down which triggers cause flare-ups to help pinpoint and manage them.

Here are some common triggers that cause psoriatic arthritis:

  • Skin trauma/injury – Dry skin, sunburn, cuts, scratches, scrapes, bruises, and infections can trigger flare-ups. This is because the immune system leaps into action once it senses invaders entering the body through sounds.
  • Stress – Anxiety and stress can cause an immune response that can trigger flare-ups.
  • Alcohol – Besides triggering flare-ups, alcohol can also interfere with psoriatic arthritis medications.
  • Certain Medicines – Beta-blockers for high blood pressure and heart conditions, antimalarial drugs and lithium are some medications that can be triggering. This is because they interfere with the autoimmune response of the body.
  • Being Overweight – Excess weight can cause stress to the joints, leading to more pain and inflammation. Psoriasis can also develop in the skin folds of those who are overweight or obese.
  • Gluten According to research, gluten can aggravate the symptoms of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
  • Infections – Common infections such as strep throat, thrush, colds, and upper respiratory infections can trigger flare-ups.

Types of Psoriatic Arthritis

1. Symmetric

Making up to 50% of the cases of psoriatic arthritis, the symmetric type mars joints on both sides of the body. The pain also usually occurs at the same time and is very similar to rheumatoid arthritis.

2. Asymmetric

Appearing in about 35% of patients, the asymmetric type is often milder than the symmetric type. Being asymmetric, it doesn’t occur on the same joints on opposite sides of the body.

3. Spondylitis

This type of psoriatic arthritis is characterized by stiffness and pain along the spine and neck.

4. Distal

This affects the ends of toes and fingers, causing inflammation, stiffness, and pain. It can also cause white spots and pitting in fingernails and toenails, as well as lifting them off the nail bed.

5. Arthritis Mutilans

This type of psoriatic arthritis affects only 5% of patients but is the most severe of all types. It results in pain at the joints at the ends of toes and fingers, causing deformities and damage.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? A disease both chronic and progressive that causes inflammation in the joints. It results in pain and immobility in the ankles, wrists, fingers, and feet.

Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment

Medical treatment for psoriatic arthritis treatment include:

  • Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) – These can reduce the inflammation and pain in flare-ups.
  • Immunosuppressants – These work to suppress an overactive immune system.
  • Disease-modifying Anti-rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) – This medication can help slow down the progression of arthritis.
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNF-Alpha) – These work as inhibitors that lower molecule tumor necrosis factor that triggers inflammation resulting in stiffness, pain, and swollen joints.
  • Steroids – These relieve inflammation very quickly via an injection into the affected joint area.
  • Joint Surgery – Often a last resort, this involves repair or complete replacement of joints that have undergone severe damage. Replacements are usually made of metal or plastic.

Foods for Psoriatic Arthritis

One of the best ways to manage psoriatic arthritis is to lead a healthy lifestyle and eat a healthy diet. Certain foods have the ability to help reduce inflammation, while others exacerbate it.

Here are some foods that should be avoided:

  • Processed foods
  • Sugary drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Simple carbohydrates (Ex.: white bread, white rice)
  • Fried foods
  • Candies

These foods are usually high in gluten and sugar, but very low in nutrients that can actually benefit the body.

Here are foods that can benefit patients with psoriatic arthritis:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Seeds and Nuts
  • Legumes

Natural foods contain beneficial nutrients such as healthy fats and antioxidants that help in reducing inflammation and reigning in an irregular immune system.

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Psoriatic Arthritis Diet

There are multiple diets available out there, each of them built for various types of people and their dietary needs. There are several of them that may be helpful for patients suffering from psoriatic arthritis.

1. Anti-inflammatory Diet

Inflammation is the primary symptom of psoriatic arthritis, so this is a good diet for psoriatic arthritis. Eating mostly food items rich in anti-inflammatory properties are a priority with this diet:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna
  • Dark, leafy greens such as spinach and kale
  • Fruits with antioxidants like berries

2. Paleo Diet

Otherwise known as the caveman diet, this diet involves avoiding nuts, grains, dairy, and processed foods. Common staples include generous helpings of fruits, vegetables, meats like fish, chicken, and beef, which are foods cavemen are believed to have eaten.

The paleo diet makes for a good psoriatic arthritis diet because it eliminates processed foods, sugar, and dairy, which can cause inflammation.

3. Weight Loss Diet

This involves an active weight loss slant. It’s a good psoriatic arthritis diet because weight loss can help lessen the load on joints. And if there’s less load on joints, there is less pressure and inflammation.

4. Gluten-Free Diet

Psoriasis can be worsened by gluten, so eating a gluten-free diet is recommended for those with psoriatic arthritis. Several patients have markedly strong gluten sensitivities, which results in inflammation once they eat barley and wheat.

Gluten is a common ingredient in many processed foods, which are also not the healthiest. Staying away from gluten also helps encourage patients to turn to more natural food alternatives like fruits and vegetables.

5. Supplements

Supplementing with a variety of natural remedies can also be a great plus in psoriatic arthritis diets. These include:

  • Ginger – A natural, anti-inflammatory agent. Incorporating ginger into foods and drinks, or drinking supplements can be enough to reap its benefits.
  • Turmeric – A relative of ginger, and has similar anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Capsaicin – Known as the chemical responsible for making spicy foods spicy, it can help block pain receptors. This reduces pain, as well as help reduce the occurrence of psoriasis.
  • Fish Oil – These supplements are rich in omega-3 fats, which are famous for helping reduce inflammation and swelling in the joints.

Psoriatic arthritis may sound severe and debilitating, but its triggers can be easily managed by making the right choices in treatment and lifestyle. Remember to always consult your doctor or primary health care provider before undergoing any lifestyle, medication, or diet shift.

Do you suffer from psoriatic arthritis? How did you manage it? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!

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