Posted on: 18 November 2015
Psoriatic arthritis is one of the lesser known forms of arthritis, but that doesn't make it any less debilitating than its more infamous cousins. Psoriatic arthritis manifests in a small but significant proportion of people who suffer from psoriasis, the more well-known chronic skin condition, which causes red, itchy scales on the skin. If this otherwise superficial disease manages to infect the patient's immune system, the body's natural defences against pathogens may start to attack the body's own tissues, particularly at the joints.
How can psoriatic arthritis affect my feet?
The human foot contains more than thirty joints, so it presents a large target for potential psoriatic arthritis attacks. The first joints to present symptoms are usually the toes, which rapidly become swollen and discoloured. This inflammation is generally accompanied by moderate to severe pain, which worsens when the joints are bent or placed under pressure by ordinary activities such as walking. If the arthritis is not effectively treated at this stage, the damage can spread into the skin, toenail beds and even the bones, potentially developing into the rare but savage arthritis mutilans which can cause horrific bone damage.
Can psoriatic arthritis in my feet be treated?
Despite how gloomy a sufferer's prospects may sound at this point, they need not be. Though no definite cure yet exists for psoriatic arthritis, a range of effective treatments have been devised to reduce pain, eliminate inflammation and slow or stop joint damage and degeneration. Any psoriatic arthritis sufferer who is having trouble with their feet should consult reputable podiatrists as soon as they can, to have their feet examined and to discuss the best treatment plan for them.
The most effective treatments of psoriatic arthritis in the feet include the following:
- Painkillers - Psoriatic arthritis differs in severity and intensity between sufferers, and people who suffer from milder versions of the illness can often manage pain sufficiently with oral painkillers alone. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are usually administered for this purpose, as they also assist in reducing swelling around affected joints.
- Corticosteroids - If pain is too severe to be managed by oral painkillers alone, corticosteroids may be administered as well. These are injected directly into the affected joint or joints, quickly and effectively relieving pain. However, they cannot be used regularly, due to the unpleasant side effects of corticosteroid overuse.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) - Commonly prescribed to people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, these immunosuppressant drugs are also effective at combating psoriatic arthritis. Generally administered alongside standard painkilling medication, these medications help reduce the amount of permanent damage the immune system inflicts on the joints.
- Orthotic footwear - Walking on a painful, swollen foot can force the sufferer to walk with an unnatural gait. Unfortunately, this tends to place even more strain on joints already weakened by arthritis, forming a vicious circle of joint damage. Orthotic insoles, braces and shoes are effective at helping a painful foot maintain the correct shape and avoid common side effects such as fallen arches.