In keeping with our theme of #arthritisawareness month, we will start off our weekly arthritis condition spotlight with alternative therapies for psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosis and Treatment
Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis that can be incredibly detrimental to a person’s quality of life. It is a form of inflammatory arthritis that is called a spondyloarthropathy. Spondyloarthropathies are types of arthritis’ that differ from other forms of arthritis in that they usually involve areas of the joint where the ligaments and tendons attach to the bone (areas called “entheses”). These conditions usually present with significant swelling and pain. Bone destruction and joint damage can also occur in later stage disease. The most common conditions in this category include psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis and enteropathic arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis and the other spondyloarthropathies can be difficult to diagnose. There are not laboratory markers that are commonly elevated that tell you the disease is present. Psoriatic arthritis is diagnosed based off symptoms. Psoriasis can commonly be present in those with psoriatic arthritis, but it isn’t necessary. Approximately 4-30% of those with psoriasis have psoriatic arthritis. Those with psoriatic arthritis though commonly have other symptoms such as yellowing or thickening of the nails, pitting of the nails, and extreme swelling in the fingers or toes.
All inflammatory arthritis’ can be difficult to treat, and many people must go on medications like Enbrel, Humira or Methotrexate. These medications can sometimes have serious side effects and may be only minimally helpful in reducing pain. Alternatively they can sometimes prevent further joint damage if it has already occurred.
Alternative treatments for psoriatic arthritic include long term treatments to help reduce inflammation through diet and lifestyle. Overgrowth of bacteria or yeast (intestinal dysbiosis) in the gut is a common trigger for conditions like psoriatic arthritis. Correcting the GI flora can be helpful in reducing overall inflammation and pain and swelling in the joints. Identifying food allergies as well can help to remove inflammatory triggers for swelling and pain.
In Chinese medicine, psoriatic arthritis is considered to be damp heat accumulation. This means that fluids collect in the joint and tissues and can cause swelling and pain. Avoiding foods that create damp such as dairy in combination with acupuncture can sometimes help reduce swelling.
For short term relief, contrast hydrotherapy, which is alternating between hot and cold in the area of swelling and pain can sometimes be very helpful, especially in the morning when pain and swelling tends to be worse. Short term fasting can also be used intermittently for reducing overall pain.
The best treatments for psoriatic arthritis include individualized plans for each person to identify specific triggers that could be contributing to inflammatory burden in the body. If you want to learn more about how you can identify your own specific inflammatory triggers for psoriatic arthritis, contact our office today to schedule a free introductory consult with one of our physicians.
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