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Psoriatic Arthritis Elbow

Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed by Mohommed Essop-AdamReviewed on 30.10.2023 | 5 minutes read

Living with psoriatic arthritis affecting the elbow can be challenging. It brings ongoing pain and discomfort and limits how well you can move your arm. It's crucial to grasp what's going on with this condition, especially if it's affecting your elbow. Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis caused by the body's immune system acting up. It causes swelling and pain in the joints, including the elbow. Interestingly, it's often seen alongside the skin condition psoriasis, showing how it affects not just the joints but the skin, too.

Causes of Psoriatic Arthritis

To understand why psoriatic arthritis happens in the elbow, we need to look at both genes and environmental factors that can trigger it. Genes play a significant role in making someone more likely to get psoriatic arthritis. But infections, injuries, and stress can also set it off. Psoriasis, a skin condition, is closely connected to psoriatic arthritis. About 30% of people with psoriasis end up getting psoriatic arthritis. This connection tells us that it's a mix of genes, what's around us, and how our immune system works that leads to psoriatic arthritis in the elbow.

Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis

Having psoriatic arthritis in your elbow means dealing with a range of symptoms that can interfere with your daily life. Knowing these symptoms and getting a diagnosis early are key to properly managing the condition.

Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis in the Elbow

  • Joint Pain: Your elbow might hurt, making it hard to do things.

  • Swelling: Your elbow might swell up, making bending or straightening your arm tough.

  • Stiffness: Your elbow might feel stiff, especially in the morning or after not moving for a while.

  • Tenderness and Warmth: Your elbow might feel tender when touched and warmer than usual due to inflammation.

  • Skin Symptoms: You might see red, scaly patches on your elbows or other parts of your body, which is typical of psoriasis.

How is Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosed?

To diagnose psoriatic arthritis in the elbow, doctors usually need to do a thorough checkup. This involves:

  • Physical Exam: Checking for pain, swelling, and how well your elbow moves.

  • Medical History: Talking about your symptoms, past health issues, and if anyone in your family has psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.

  • Imaging Tests: Taking X-rays or MRI scans to see if there's any damage or inflammation in your elbow.

  • Checking Psoriasis: Looking for signs of psoriasis on your skin or nails to confirm the diagnosis.

It's crucial to work with a healthcare team who knows a lot about psoriatic arthritis to get the right diagnosis and start the right treatment.

How to treat Psoriatic Arthritis

Managing psoriatic arthritis in your elbow means using different methods to ease pain, reduce swelling, and help your elbow work better. Here's how:

Treatment Options

  • Medication: Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help with pain and swelling. Corticosteroid injections directly into your elbow can also ease pain during flare-ups. There are also disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biological therapies to slow down the disease and protect your joints.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Eating well, exercising, and managing stress can make a big difference in how you feel. Avoiding things that make your elbow hurt and protecting your joints during activities also help.

  • Physical Therapy: Doing exercises and stretches can strengthen your muscles, make your elbow move better, and ease pain.

  • Supportive Devices: Using things like splints or braces can support your elbow and make it hurt less during activities.

Managing It All

  • Handling Symptoms: Finding ways to cope with pain and stiffness, like using heat or cold therapy and doing gentle exercises, can help.

  • Preventing Flare-ups: Sticking to your treatment plan, seeing your doctor regularly, and watching out for new symptoms can stop things from getting worse.

  • Taking Care of Yourself: Getting enough rest, staying hydrated, and keeping a healthy weight are all part of looking after yourself when you have psoriatic arthritis. Learning more about the condition, getting support, and speaking up about what you need is also important.

By following a good treatment plan and looking after yourself, you can deal with psoriatic arthritis in your elbow and still enjoy life. Regularly talking to your healthcare team and taking care of yourself are the keys to managing it well.

When to See Your Doctor

Knowing when to reach out to your doctor is crucial when dealing with psoriatic arthritis in your elbow. You should consider seeing your doctor if:

  • Your Symptoms Worsen: If your elbow pain, swelling, or stiffness gets worse, it's essential to seek medical advice.

  • New Symptoms Appear: If you notice new symptoms or changes in your condition, such as increased redness or warmth in your elbow joint, it's best to consult your doctor.

  • Difficulty Managing Daily Activities: If your elbow symptoms start interfering with your ability to perform daily tasks or activities, it's time to seek medical attention.

  • Concerns About Treatment: If you have concerns or questions about your treatment plan or medication, don't hesitate to discuss them with your doctor.

What Your Doctor Will Do

When you visit your doctor for psoriatic arthritis in your elbow, they will likely:

  • Assess Your Symptoms: Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, how long you've had them, and if anything makes them better or worse.

  • Physical Examination: Your doctor will examine your elbow and other affected joints to assess tenderness, swelling, and range of motion.

  • Review Your Medical History: They will review your medical history, including any previous diagnosis of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, as well as any family history of autoimmune conditions.

  • Order Diagnostic Tests: Depending on your symptoms and medical history, your doctor may order imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans to evaluate joint damage and inflammation.

  • Evaluate Psoriasis Symptoms: If you have skin symptoms of psoriasis, your doctor may examine them to confirm the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis and assess disease severity.

  • Discuss Treatment Options: Based on your symptoms and test results, your doctor will discuss treatment options tailored to your individual needs. This may include medication, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, or a combination of treatments.

  • Monitor Your Progress: Your doctor will monitor your response to treatment, adjust your treatment plan as needed, and provide ongoing support and guidance to manage your condition effectively.

It's essential to communicate openly with your doctor, ask questions, and follow their recommendations to achieve the best possible outcomes in managing psoriatic arthritis in your elbow. Regular follow-up appointments will allow your doctor to track your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

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Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed by Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed on 30.10.2023
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