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Psoriatic arthritis is characterized by a condition in which both psoriasis and arthritis occur at the same time. It is also referred to as arthritis psoriatica or arthropathic psoriasis. Psoriasis is a common skin disorder that causes red scaly patches. In a majority of the cases, it develops before the onset of arthritis symptoms, whereas in a few instances, skin lesions are observed after being diagnosed with arthritis. Overall, about 10-20% people affected by psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. Though it can affect people of any age group, most patients are in the age group of 30-50.

There is no reliable clinical data about the causes of this condition. However, according to some researchers genetic factors and immune responses play a major role in the development of this inflammatory condition. The most noticeable symptoms include joint pain, inflammation, swelling, and stiffness and redness in and around the affected joint area. At times, the symptoms resemble that of rheumatoid arthritis. In some patients, this type of arthritis basically involves the knees and ankles.

Overview

In general, it is very difficult to predict about psoriatic arthritis. This is because, the manifested symptoms and/or disease conditions vary from one individual to another. Considering this, the prognosis depends on various factors. Following are some of the factors that affect the prognosis of this condition.

Joint Damage
One of the most important factors for prognosis is examination of the joints. It is suggested that more the number of affected joints, the worst will be the prognosis. In such a case, a patient may experience severe pain, bone destruction, and at times fusing of joints. Onset of erosive or polyarticular disease is also an indication that the condition of the patient may deteriorate.

Role of Skin and Nails
The severity of skin and nail problems is also examined, if the person has significant skin problems then his condition may further drop. Very often, individuals with psoriatic arthritis show nail thickening and deformities to some extent.

Age Factor
If this skin disorder is manifested at a younger age, then the chances of a more high-risk prognosis are very high. If the patient is below 20 years, he/she tends to develop a severe condition.

Gender
The condition deteriorates more in women than in male patients. Women are likely to develop acute joint deformities, whereas men may develop inflammatory symptoms.

Genetic Factor
The prognosis can be serious, if the patient has a family history of this inflammatory condition. Also, if genetic testing shows the expression of specific genes, namely, HLA-DR3, HLA-DR4, and HLA-B27, then the patient tends to develop severe symptoms.

Features that reveal relatively good prognosis include less damage to the joints, remission of some of the symptoms, and positive results in functional tests. Most patients may have arthritis problems throughout their life and to be precise, remissions are very rare, which occur in only about 10-20% of the patients.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of this condition is done based on the symptoms and physical examination (particularly skin and joints) along with laboratory imaging tests. In addition, the doctor may conduct blood tests in order to rule out other health conditions. Rise in the ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) and CRP (C-reactive protein) reading is an indication of the severity of inflammation.

It is to be noted that there is no effective cure for this skin disorder. Nevertheless, timely diagnosis and treatment may help in combating the symptoms better. As inflammation is the major symptom associated with it, treatment is primarily focused on controlling and lowering tissue inflammation. The physician may suggest certain healthy lifestyle changes, including mild exercises and a suitable diet.

The prognosis, if done properly, will help in determining the severity of the condition and future complications (if any). This skin disorder is a chronic condition. But on the brighter side, the painful symptoms and further damage to the joints can be kept under control by administration of certain medications and implementation of healthy habits.