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9 Psoriatic Arthritis Myths Debunked
Psoriatic arthritis is a complicated autoimmune disease that is easily misunderstood — even by people who have been living with the condition for years.
Five types of psoriatic arthritis can affect the skin and joints, and symptoms of the condition can look quite different from person to person, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Some people may have a mild form of arthritis, while others may experience debilitating symptoms. It’s also easy to mistake psoriatic arthritis for other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, the Arthritis Foundation notes.
With so much confusion surrounding the disease, it’s easy for misinformation to spread. But learning the truth about psoriatic arthritis can help you better manage and treat this condition. Here, rheumatologists dispel some common myths about psoriatic arthritis.
Myth: Psoriatic arthritis can be cured.
Fact:Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease that isn’t curable, says Shristi Basnyat, MD, a rheumatologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. However, psoriatic arthritis is something you can control — even put in remission — if you have the right treatment.
Myth: Your psoriatic arthritis will be the same as everyone else’s.
Fact:Your symptoms of psoriatic arthritis may vary quite a bit from those of someone else who has it. The severity of the disease can differ too. “Some people have mild disease that can be controlled with anti-inflammatories, but in others we see more of an aggressive disease,” Dr. Basnyat says.
Myth: Psoriatic arthritis only affects your joints.
Fact:Many people with psoriatic arthritis also have psoriasis, which can cause a skin rash and pitted nails, according to the Arthritis Foundation. In addition to joint issues, psoriatic arthritis may cause pain and stiffness where ligaments attach to the bone. Psoriatic arthritis can also cause an inflammatory eye disease and put you at higher risk for metabolic syndrome, heart attacks, stroke, osteoporosis, and depression, the Arthritis Foundation notes. It has even been associated with inflammatory bowel disease and damage to the lungs.
Myth: People with psoriatic arthritis always have psoriasis.
Fact:Although people with psoriatic arthritis often have a history of psoriasis, that’s not always the case, says Joseph Markenson, MD, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and a professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. An estimated 15 to 30 percent of people with psoriasis will develop arthritis, according to the American College of Rheumatology.
Myth: The severity of your psoriasis relates to the severity of your psoriatic arthritis.
Fact:For some people, there’s a correlation between the severity of psoriasis and that of arthritis, Basnyat says. For example, when you have a flare or when psoriatic arthritis symptoms get worse, you may also notice your skin getting worse. But it’s important to keep in mind that this association isn’t always present in everyone.
Myth: Psoriasis is contagious.
Fact:No, it’s not. Friends and family members can’t catch psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis from you, Basnyat says.
Myth: Exercise makes psoriatic arthritis symptoms worse.
Fact:Your arthritis won’t get worse with exercise. In fact, the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) says that moderate exercise can relieve pain and stiffness and improve range of motion and flexibility. However, if you stress a joint or have a joint that’s actively inflamed, it can be painful to move it. Basnyat recommends doing a regular low-impact exercise regimen while making sure you listen to your body and don’t overdo it.
Myth: Psoriatic arthritis always causes joint deformity.
Fact:It’s true that psoriatic arthritis can lead to joint deformity, but it’s not inevitable, especially if you work with your doctor to get the best treatment plan for you, Basnyat says. It’s also important to continue your medication even if you’ve reached remission. In one small study, researchers found that people who stopped their treatment after achieving remission with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) were at high risk of the disease coming back. The findings were published in theAnnals of the Rheumatic Diseasesin December 2013.
Myth: If your treatment plan works, you’ll never need to change it.
Fact:A less aggressive therapy may work when you’re younger, but for some people, symptoms get progressively worse. As a result, you may need to switch to a different medication, Basnyat says. Also, some drugs may become less effective over time.
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