One of our dear blogger friends has recently been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis and is in a lot of pain. I was not very familiar with this type of Arthritis and I found out that this form actually is a combination of two different illnesses: Psoriasis, which is a skin condition, and a rheumatic disease.
The cause of this disease is not really known; environmental changes, as well as changes in the immune system are possibilities, but it could also be partially inherited. Most of the times it occurs between the age of 20 - 50, but it is not limited to that. Diagnosing this disease is mostly done by x-rays, blood tests and joint fluid tests.
The Psoriasis usually precedes the Arthritis. There is no time span for that; it can vary from months to years. When it reveals itself, it can be recognized by the following symptoms:
- Pain and swelling in one or more joints. - Swelling of fingers and/or toes which has an affect on them appearing like "sausages". - Silver or grey scaly spots which can be found on the scalp, elbows, knees and/or lower end of the spine. - Pitting of fingernails and/or toenails. - Stiffness in the joints, usually in the mornings.
Psoriatic Arthritis can be treated and there are several options available: Skin care, light treatments (UVB or PUVA), exercise, rest, heat and cold applications and splints are some of them. More drastic treatments are corrective cosmetics and surgery. The last occurs very rarely though.
Medications usually given are glucocorticoids, NSAIDs, DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, gold, cyclosporine. I also found that recently studies have shown that vitamin D might improve the Arthritis, which in itself is already a major plus; nobody wants having to live in constant pain.
There are however more options to clear up both the Psoriasis and the Arthritis: Humira, Enbrel and Remicade are often administered when the previous medications don't work. All of these do a good job of clearing up the Psoriasis and keeping the Arthritis under control and preventing it from doing more damage.
Talk to your doctor about each of these medications and see what works best for you. In case Enbrel, Remicade or Humira are suggested, contact your health insurance and inquire what or how much they cover, since those treatments are rather expensive.
Even if you would have to pay some out of pocket, it is worth it; no price can be set on health and well being. Following in Christ's footsteps may cost some effort, determination and commitment, but it is worth it; no price can be set on His love, grace, mercy and the knowledge of having everlasting life!
Jeremiah 33:6 Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.
Psoriasis is driven by the immune system, especially involving a type of white blood cell called a T cell. Normally, T cells help protect the body against infection and disease. T cells help create scabs over wounds. In the case of psoriasis, T cells are put into action by mistake and become so active that they trigger other immune responses, which lead to inflammation and to rapid turnover of skin cells.
Most recently, the natural or innate immune system has been found to be highly implicated. Non-specific natural responses of the skin immune system, and virtually every subsystem of that, are activated in psoriasis. Epidermal cells up on the surface of the skin, forming itchy patches or plaques. The first outbreak of psoriasis is sometimes triggered by emotional or mental stress or physical skin injury, but heredity is a major factor as well. In about one-third of the cases, there is a family history of psoriasis. Researchers have studied a large number of families affected by psoriasis and identified genes linked to the disease. (Genes govern every bodily function and determine the inherited traits passed from parent to child.)
People with psoriasis may notice that there are times when their skin worsens, then improves. Conditions that may cause flare-ups include infections, stress, and changes in climate that dry the skin. Also, certain medicines, including Lithium salt and beta blockers, which are prescribed for high blood pressure, may trigger an outbreak or worsen the disease. Other autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS may significantly worsen the symptoms of psoriasis. Alcohol consumption and obesity may also worsen the condition.
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My husband has been using the "Dr. Max Powers Joint Support w/ Vitamin B12" supplements for 4 years now for his arthritis. His Orthopedic Surgeon recommended the Dr. Max Powers brand only and told him to stay away from other similar products because they don't work as efficiently. His hip needs to be replaced and with the Joint Support Supplements he has gotten so much relief that he has been able to put off the replacement for 10 years...and still counting. It isn't a quick fix though. It took about 4 months of using the product before he saw increased mobility and decreased pain. He swears by this product and never misses a dose. When I spoke to my rheumatologist he thinks everyone over 50 ought to take this supplement -- but only this particular brand. Despite recent reports that glucosamine/chondroitin generally may be ineffective, he continues to recommend it because the fed govt (NIH? not sure which agency) did a well-designed study of this actual brand and found it effective. My understanding is that, while it may sometimes cause new cartilage growth, it is most useful for minimizing future cartilage loss, i.e., it's primarily effective as a preventative supplement. They were a bit difficult to find in stores, but I was able to find them online at www.drmaxpowers.com