August is Psoriasis Awareness Month. To continue our recognition of this campaign - following up on a psoriasis-related blog we presented earlier this month, here we look at the causes of psoriatic arthritis, and discuss a selection of supplements which can improve the symptoms and/or health outcomes of those with psoriatic arthritis.
Causes and Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
Our previous article in recognition of Psoriasis Awareness/Action Month discussed plaque psoriasis and four excellent supplements that could help it. However, there is more to be said: psoriasis can be compounded by an additional set of symptoms known as psoriatic arthritis (PsA).
While psoriasis is a condition of the skin, psoriatic arthritis is a condition of the joints. It is chronic, and its symptoms stem from inflammation. Up to 30 percent of individuals with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis. The majority of cases appear between the ages of 30 and 50, often around 10 years after psoriasis symptoms first develop. In a minority of cases, PsA occurs before the symptoms of psoriasis, or without psoriasis symptoms ever occurring at all.
The symptoms of PsA are stiffness and pain in the joints. They can range from mild to severe, and there are multiple types of PsA. For the sake of brevity, we'll describe the basic differences here but forego discussing them in-depth. PsA can be oligoarticular (occurring in 4 or fewer joints), or polyarticular (5 or more joints). Furthermore, PsA can occur in the peripheral joints in hands and feet, or in the spine, hips, and shoulders. Standard medical treatments exist for PsA, but there is no cure.
Supplements for Psoriatic Arthritis
Just like psoriasis, the symptoms and complications of psoriatic arthritis can be influenced by a person's nutritional intake. A number of dietary nutrients and herbs can help. We discuss some of the best ones here. Bear in mind that these are not a replacement for medical treatment for psoriatic arthritis, but rather a component of healthy management of PsA. As always, be sure to discuss the use of any of these supplements with your healthcare provider.
Vitamin D has been studied for its effects on inflammation, and its potential to diminish the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Vitamin D suppresses the production of multiple inflammatory chemicals produced in the body, promotes immune T-cell activity, and diminishes the production of "natural killer cells," which are associated with PsA. Research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is common in those with PsA. Further research shows that higher levels of vitamin D bolster the efficacy of medical treatment of PsA.
Turmeric is known for combatting many types of arthritis, and it is believed that its effectiveness can include psoriatic arthritis. Turmeric is a natural herb that works as a powerful anti-inflammatory, hence why it could reduce pain due to psoriatic arthritis.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are substances produced in the body, which make up the cartilage in joints. They are also available as a combined dietary supplement. These substances have been touted for their ability to relieve psoriatic arthritis pain if taken daily. These two supplements are among the most commonly recommended supplements for arthritis, period.
Fish oil could be helpful for those with PsA on account of their increased risk of atherosclerosis. Individuals with psoriatic arthritis are more likely to be diagnosed with atherosclerosis (dangerous arterial plaque build-up), a condition which causes coronary artery disease. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-healthy and can prevent atherosclerosis in those with psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis is similar in some ways to psoriasis, but it has its own symptoms and root causes. Taking in nutrients to help the body combat psoriatic arthritis can be done with the above supplements. Again, talk to your healthcare provider before trying one of these supplements for the first time.