Psoriatic Arthritis

According to the American College of Rheumatology, psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that occurs in some patients with psoriasis (is a chronic skin condition caused by an overactive immune system) and can affect the joints in the body.

It is a chronic disease that may present as mild with occasional flair ups or, in more severe cases, can cause joint damage in fingers and toes, as well as larger joints in the lower extremities, such as knees, back and sacroiliac joints in the pelvis.

The Mayo Clinic describes the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis as:

  • Swollen fingers and toesPsoriatic arthritis can cause a painful, sausage-like swelling of your fingers and toes. You may also develop swelling and deformities in your hands and feet before having significant joint symptoms.
  • Foot pain -Psoriatic arthritis can also cause pain at the points where tendons and ligaments attach to your bones — especially at the back of your heel (Achilles tendinitis) or in the sole of your foot (plantar fasciitis).
  • Lower back pain -Some people develop a condition called spondylitis as a result of psoriatic arthritis. Spondylitis mainly causes inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae of your spine and in the joints between your spine and pelvis (sacroiliitis).

Psoriatic arthritis can go into remission.  When in remission, the symptoms may alternate causing them to subside for a time and then reappearing in the form of painful, swollen joints.

Many people with psoriatic arthritis may first think they have rheumatoid arthritis since both diseases have similar symptoms. The only difference is that psoriatic arthritis is prevalent in patients who have psoriasis of the skin as well.

When seeing your doctor to determine whether or not you may have psoriatic arthritis your doctor may examine your joints for swelling or tenderness, check your fingernails, hands, feet and toes for pitting, flaking or other abnormalities.

Psoriatic arthritis is diagnosed by X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), testing the rheumatoid factor (RF) antibody in your blood or a joint fluid test to see if you have uric acid crystals in your joint fluid.

Since there isn’t a cure for psoriatic arthritis, healthcare professionals are focused on controlling the symptoms and thwarting permanent damage to the joints.

Some medications prescribed to treat psoriatic arthritis include:

  • NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).
  • Disease-modifying ant rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) -These drugs can slow the progression of psoriatic arthritis and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage.
  • Immunosuppressants -These medications act to tame your immune system, which is out of control in psoriatic arthritis.
  • TNF-alpha inhibitors – Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is an inflammatory substance produced by your body. TNF-alpha inhibitors can help reduce pain, morning stiffness, and tender or swollen joints.

Other procedures that have been effective are steroid injections or joint replacement surgery.  Steroid injections reduce inflammation rapidly and joint replacement surgery replaces the severely damaged joint with an artificial prosthesis made of metal and/or plastic.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and would like to speak with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital, call 718-206-7001 to schedule an appointment with a Rheumatology specialist.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Gout

Gout is a common form of arthritis that is characterized by attacks of pain, swelling, stiffness, redness or tenderness in the joints. These attacks or flares typically affect one joint at a time. They can occur suddenly and return over time.

Gout is caused by an accumulation of urate crystals in the joint.  Urate crystals form when there are high levels of uric acid in your blood. Uric acid is produced when your body breaks down purines; substances that are found naturally in our bodies and in foods such as steak, seafood and organ meats.  Alcoholic beverages and drinks sweetened with fructose (fruit sugar) are known to promote higher levels of uric acid in the body.

Some people are more likely to develop gout than others. Factors that increase your risk include:

  • Being obese; If you are overweight your body produces more uric acid and your kidneys may not be able to properly eliminate excessive amounts
  • Having a diet that is rich in purines, this includes seafood, red meat, organ meat, or beverages sweetened with fructose
  • Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Having certain health conditions such as  hypertension, diabetes,  heart and kidney disease
  • Using certain medications such as diuretics or low-dose aspirin

Men are more at risk of developing gout than women; this is because women tend to produce lower levels of uric acid. Men are also more likely to develop gout at an earlier age than women.   In men, symptoms may occur as early as the age of 30, and in women after menopause.

There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk for gout or prevent future attacks, they include:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Limiting your intake of seafood and meat
  • Limiting or avoiding alcohol
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

If you are experiencing symptoms of gout, or believe that you may be at risk, make an appointment to see a physician. Your doctor may order a series of test or assess your current state of health to receive a diagnosis or to determine if you are at risk.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Does Winter Weather Make Arthritis Worse?

Lonely old lady

Bundle up, work out indoors, and keep plenty of vitamin D in your diet. These are some of the ways you can get arthritis pain relief despite the bone-chilling cold of winter weather. Many people who experience more severe arthritis pain in the winter than compared to other months believe that barometric pressure is to blame for their heightened discomfort. However, that old wives tale hasn’t been proven scientifically.

Whether the joint pain/weather connection is scientifically true or not, you can still use these arthritis pain-relief tips when your aching joints act up in winter.

  • Stay active. Keep your body stimulated by doing light exercises or consistent movements to keep your joints moving. Do it indoors to keep away from the cold.
  • Eat a Healthy diet. Eating a balanced diet that comprised of low saturated fat, lean proteins, more fiber, and refined carbs helps to improve body functions during the winter.
  • Add Vitamin D. It is necessary to take a supplement vitamin D or ensure to make your diet vitamin-D rich. Fish oil is a potent source of omega 3 fatty acids as well as getting natural sunlight.
  • Stay Hydrated. Hydration is most often associated with sweat and the summer months, but it’s just as important to drink plenty of water in winter, too.

If your arthritis doesn’t improve after trying the above tips it is very important that you consult with a doctor immediately. The Division of Rheumatology at Jamaica Hospital provides consultations for patients who develop rheumatological disorders, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-206-7001

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Why Patients With RA Should Be Concerned About Osteoporosis

rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) not only affects the joints but it can also lead to long-term problems in bone health, such as osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a disease which causes bones to become brittle, porous (less dense) and weakened, leaving them susceptible to fractures.  Studies have found that people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

The reasons why the two are linked are numerous.  Complications of RA, including systemic inflammation, the use of glucocorticoids or corticosteroids and loss of mobility can all further the development of osteoporosis.

People with RA who have developed osteoporosis may not know they have the disease because it often goes undetected until the bones fracture. However, there are several lifestyle changes they can apply to reduce their risk, such as:

  • Eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
  • Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements
  • Getting adequate sunlight to receive vitamin D
  • Exercise (weight bearing exercise)
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Quit smoking
  • Taking recommended bone density tests

It is recommended that you speak with a doctor before making changes as each person’s case is unique. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to treat osteoporosis.

To schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718- 206

 

-6742 or 718-206-7001. The Division of Rheumatology at Jamaica Hospital provides consultations for patients who develop rheumatological disorders, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. There is a twice-monthly arthritis clinic and bone mineral density testing for diagnosing osteoporosis.

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Natural Relief From Arthritis Pain

male all joints pain in blue

May is recognized each year as National Arthritis Awareness Month. Arthritis is a painful and degenerative condition marked by swelling in the joints that causes stiffness and pain. It is the number one cause of disability for more than 50 million Americans.

The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, gets worse with age and is caused by wear and tear over the years. Unfortunately there isn’t a cure for arthritis but there are treatment and medication options to ease the pain. Doctors traditionally treat arthritis with anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers. However, some medications cause side effects, and a natural approach to pain relief is also an option.

  1. Reduce the stress on your joints by losing weight will improve your mobility, decrease pain, and prevent future damage to your joints.
  2. Get more exercise. Regular movement helps to maintain flexibility in your joints.
  3. Try Acupuncture. It is thought that acupuncture has the ability to reduce arthritis pain. If you want to try this treatment method, be sure to find an experienced acupuncturist with good references.
  4. Add turmeric spice to your dishes. Turmeric, the yellow spice common in Indian dishes, contains a chemical called curcumin that may be able to reduce arthritis pain. The secret is its anti-inflammatory properties.
  5. Try herbal supplements. Some of the herbs touted for arthritis pain include boswellia, bromelain, devil’s claw, ginkgo, stinging nettle, and thunder god vine.

Before trying any of these natural alternatives to joint pain relief, consult with your doctor first to decide what works best for you.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Arthritis and Exercise

Man Exercising On Stationary Cycle

 

Did you know that if you have arthritis, exercise may benefit your bones, muscles and joints?

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or swim with the intensity of an Olympic competitor.  Low impact exercise can help improve your health and fitness without hurting your joints. These exercises may include raising your arms over head or rolling your shoulders.

In conjunction with a treatment plan, exercise can:

  • Strengthen the muscles around your joints
  • Help you maintain bone strength
  • Give you more energy to get through the day
  • Make it easier to get a good night’s sleep
  • Help you control your weight
  • Improve your balance
  • Enhance your quality of life

Exercises can relieve stiffness and increase your ability to move your joints through their full range of motion.  It is always good to speak with your doctor about fitting exercise into your treatment plan.  The types of exercises that are best for you will depend on your type of arthritis and which joints are affected.

If you have arthritis and would like to explore adding exercise to your treatment plan, you can speak with one of the dozens of trained physicians at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center.  To make an appointment with a physician, call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Can Cracking Your Knuckles Lead to Arthritis?

You were probably cautioned as a child not to crack your knuckles because it would cause arthritis… and if you are a parent, you probably tell your children the same thing, but is there any truth to this warning?

ThinkstockPhotos-57226144Our hands contain many joints where our bones meet. Surrounding those joints are capsules filled with synovial fluid, a natural lubricant produced by our bodies. When we push, pull, or crack our fingers or knuckles we are actually stretching those capsules, causing the gasses that were dissolved in the fluid to release and equalize the pressure in the joints – kind of like popping a cork on a bottle of champagne. This release results in the common “popping” sound associated with cracking your knuckles.
The act of knuckle or finger cracking provides a momentary sense of relief as the joints are stretched. It takes our bodies about 30 minutes to re-build the synovial fluid in our joints.

The good news is that while the sound of knuckles cracking is annoying to hear, it actually does not contribute to the development of arthritis. The bad news is there are other consequences. In recent studies, habitual knuckle crackers were found to have reduced hand functionality and weaker grip strength than those who did not crack their knuckles.

With this newfound information, mothers and fathers everywhere can now change their parental warning to, “Stop cracking your knuckles or you will have a weak handshake!”

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.