Of the 3% of women and men in the United States who have the autoimmune disease psoriasis — which causes rashes and plaques to break out over your skin — about a third go on to develop a complication called psoriatic arthritis (PsA).
As with any form of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis makes your joints painful and stiff.
There’s no cure for psoriasis or for PsA, but you can manage both autoimmune conditions with lifestyle adjustments and medications. If PsA progresses, though, it can lead to some surprising complications that don’t seem to have anything to do with skin or joints.
At the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey, our board-certified rheumatologists, Ahmed M. Abdel-Megid, MD, and Amanda Borham, MD, diagnose and treat PsA as well as its complications.
Our team offers joint injections as well as physical therapy to help your joints stay comfortable and mobile.
What kinds of complications can you develop from PsA? The list may surprise you.
You could have vision loss
When you have psoriasis or PsA, your immune system attacks healthy tissues by mistake. An immune system in attack mode launches inflammation throughout the body. That’s why your skin breaks out in lesions and, eventually, why your joints swell and stiffen.
The inflammation can affect your eyes, too. A condition called uveitis — which creates swelling in your eyes — can lead to vision problems and even vision loss. About 7-25% of those with PsA develop uveitis. Be sure to have your eyes checked regularly if you have PsA.
You may develop diabetes
Inflammation is also one of the root causes of Type 2 diabetes. Having PsA increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by more than 40%.
If you have PsA, eating a healthy, whole-foods, sugar-free diet is especially important. First, it helps control inflammation and pain. Second, it reduces your risk for excess blood glucose that causes diabetes.
You could become depressed
Any type of chronic condition can lead to depression, simply from the stress of having to deal with an illness on a daily basis. But the proteins that trigger PsA throughout your body can also trigger changes in your brain.
Although controlling inflammation through diet and medication may help your PsA, it won’t necessarily alleviate your depression. Let us know if you no longer enjoy life as fully as you did before PsA. We may refer you to counseling or a support group.
Your digestion may be affected
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease — commonly goes hand in hand with PsA. Both IBD and PsA share certain genetic features that increase your risk of developing one if you have the other.
Again, some of the proteins that trigger inflammation in PsA do the same in IBD. If you have diarrhea, constipation, or digestive issues, please let us know as soon as possible. Some of the medications that are effective for PsA worsen IBD. We may need to make adjustments.
You could have lower back pain
Another inflammatory condition that can be a complication of PsA is a form of arthritis called spondylitis. In spondylitis, the bones of your lower spine become stiff and painful. They may also fuse together, making it difficult to bend your back.
You could develop fatty liver disease
Up to 32% of women and men with PsA have abnormalities of their livers. You’re at risk for developing a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. RA can also affect kidney function.
Your risk for heart and lung disease increases
Women and men with PsA are 43% more likely to have a heart attack and 22% more likely to have a stroke than those without PsA. The chronic inflammation can also affect the interstitial lining of your lungs, making it hard to breathe.
Stay on top of your PsA by getting the care you need to avoid complications. Contact us today by phone or online form at our office nearest you, in Monroe, Flemington, or Somerville, New Jersey.