This year on September 28th, for the first time ever, the world will be celebrating Psoriatic Arthritis Awareness Day.
What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by swelling, pain, and tenderness of the joints.
Up to 30% of people with psoriasis eventually develop PsA, which involves joint inflammation. It’s a serious disease, and can impact patients’ everyday mobility. In the most severe cases, patients are unable to walk easily or climb stairs, creating a daily hardship and sorely affecting their quality of life. Other symptoms include pain and swelling in the joints, swollen fingers and toes, and inflammation and pain at sites where the ligaments and tendons attach to bone.
PsA Doesn’t Discriminate
More than one million people in the USA are diagnosed with PsA, but the actual number is likely much higher. This is because the disease is often misdiagnosed, which is why PsA Day and a general awareness campaign is so important.
Symptoms from PsA usually appear in patients who are between the ages of 30 and 50, which is another person it’s misdiagnosed—often, the person suffering assumes they’re “too young for arthritis.” The disease is also gender neutral, affecting men and women equally. As you can see, PsA casts a wide net.
How is PsA Diagnosed?
A rheumatologist can perform a physical exam, at which point they’ll look for swelling and inflammation of the joints as well as abnormalities in the nails, all while collecting information from the patient about the location and nature of their pain. Physicians can also use a patient’s medical history, physical examination, imaging, and/or lab tests to diagnose PsA. Some of the symptoms of PsA are very similar to rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and reactive arthritis, so a proper diagnosis can be complicated. They key to managing PsA is for a patient to work with a physician they trust and create an ongoing disease management plan.
How Your Practice Can Support PsA Day
In order to spread awareness of PsA and help your patients, it’s a great idea for your practice to celebrate and promote PsA day. Your practice can help educate your community and support your patients in many ways:
- Show your support for the PsA community on social media by using the hashtag #PsADay16. This hashtag will work on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Don’t be shy and share far and wide! The more people who see your post, the more aware they will become.
- Watch and share a series of videos filmed by the Psoriatic Arthritis Info Zone, many of which offer tips for people living with Psa. The videos can be found on YouTube.
- Encourage your patients to contact the National Psoriasis Foundation, which provides direct, personalized support through their Patient Navigation Center. This organization can help your patients connect with others PsA patients and become more enthusiastic about your treatment plans.
- Participate in a clinical trial for psoriatic arthritis. Clinical trials play an important role in the development of new and better treatments for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It’s the best way to find safe and effective treatments and bring new drugs to the marketplace.
- Become an advocate and an ally by contacting your elected officials. Remember to be polite when speaking to leaders and their staff in order to build respectful relationships, be personal when discussing the impact psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis has had on your patients, and be persistent in your efforts—don’t give up!
- Join the Psoriasis Action Network so you can learn about the newest opportunities and events, as well as receive action alerts. Sometimes timing is everything, and this network is the best way to ensure you never miss an opportunity to help.