GET A GRIP ON PSORIATIC ARTHRITIS
OCT 8, 2019 @ 8PM
For people living with severe Psoriatic Arthritis, doing everyday tasks such as buttoning or zipping up clothing and lifting heavy objects is a challenge. Psoriatic Arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis. This happens when the immune system causes inflammation that can lead to swelling, pain and stiffness in the joints.
This condition affects people who have Psoriasis – a chronic autoimmune condition that affects the skin; it commonly appears as raised, red patches covered with silvery white build-up of skin cells. In most cases, people develop Psoriasis first then Psoriatic Arthritis.
Among the estimated 500,000 – 800,000 Malaysians living with Psoriasis, approximately 15-20% of them have Psoriatic Arthritis. Like Psoriasis, the flare-ups for Psoriatic Arthritis happen unpredictably with periods of remission. Psoriatic Arthritis can develop at any given time, but for most people it appears between the ages of 30 and 50 years. As Psoriatic Arthritis is a genetic condition, it is more likely to develop the condition when a family member has it.
Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis may not be the same for everyone. Some of the common symptoms are low back pain, fatigue, nail pitting, swollen, stiff joints, swelling of the toes and fingers. If inflammation is not controlled, the patient’s mobility will be reduced hence affecting their quality of life.
“There is currently no cure for Psoriatic Arthritis, however there are treatments available to help control the symptoms. If Psoriatic Arthritis is left untreated, the inflammation may cause permanent damage to the joints and tissues which can lead to disability,” said Associate Professor Dr Sargunan Sockalingam, Consultant Rheumatologist, University Malaya Medical Centre.
Patients more likely to suffer from depression
Living with Psoriatic Arthritis has its challenges, apart from suffering through pain, stiffness, and fatigue, Psoriatic Arthritis can also affect the patients emotionally. Studies have shown that Psoriatic Arthritis patients are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, compared to patients with Psoriasis only. Patients sometimes get frustrated by their condition because it makes it difficult for them to do simple tasks. This would then cause them stress which could trigger the flare-ups and pain.
“I was first diagnosed with Psoriasis when I was 12. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis not long after. I was very upset, frustrated and depressed because I was having difficulties doing simple tasks like writing, opening a bottle and lifting things. As I grew older, I’ve learnt to accept myself and realised that having this condition is not the end of the world if I start managing it better. At the same time, I feel blessed because I still have my limbs,” says Sofia, a Psoriatic Arthritis patient.
Sofia added, “I am now a more confident and courageous woman. I love being the strong woman that I am today, able to stand tall and openly speak about my condition. I am proud of how far I've come, and this is reflected in the level of self-confidence and courage that is in me today. There is still so much for me to do for the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis community out there and I am confident I can do my part to make a difference.”
“It is important that Psoriatic Arthritis patients understand and seek professional help in the early stages, as early diagnosis and seeking immediate treatment is important in preventing destruction and the loss of joint function,” Sockalingam added.
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