psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia

Is There a Connection?

Psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia are both chronic health conditions that can significantly affect quality of life. While they are distinct diseases, recent research suggests a potential link between the two. In this article, we will explore the signs of fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis, discuss what psoriatic arthritis is, what causes it, foods to avoid and the link between fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis. We will also look at treatment options for psoriatic arthritis, including Inflectra, which is used to treat psoriatic arthritis in adults.

Signs of Fibromyalgia

1. Muscle Pain

Individuals with fibromyalgia experience a persistent dull ache that can last for months. The pain typically occurs on both sides of the body, above and below the waist.

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2. Fatigue

Even after sleeping for long periods, people with fibromyalgia often wake up tired. Sleep is frequently disrupted by pain and many individuals have other sleep disorders like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.

3. Face and Jaw Pain

This can include temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, causing pain in the jaw area and around the ears.

4. Headaches and Migraines

These are common in fibromyalgia patients, and often linked to neck and shoulder tension or TMJ issues.

5. Digestive Problems

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea, is often associated with fibromyalgia.

6. Bladder Control Issues

Some individuals face symptoms similar to an overactive bladder, including increased frequency and urinary urgency.

7. Memory Problems

This includes challenges with focus, attention and concentration, sometimes referred to as "fibro fog."

8. Anxiety and Depression

The chronic pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia can lead to or worsen these mental health issues.

9. Insomnia

Difficulty falling or staying asleep is common, exacerbating the cycle of pain and fatigue.

Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis

1. Joint Pain

Psoriatic arthritis causes pain, swelling and tenderness in the joints; often the pain can be significant.

2. Stiffness

Morning stiffness, or stiffness after resting, is common and usually lasts for more than 30 minutes.

3. Discoloration Near Affected Joints

Affected areas may exhibit redness or a warmth to the touch due to inflammation.

4. Pain Where Tendons Attach to Bones

This might manifest as tendinitis or enthesitis, including Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.

5. Swelling in Fingers and Toes

This can give the appearance of "sausage digits" and is often accompanied by pain.

6. Psoriasis Rash

The classic psoriasis rash includes red patches of skin covered with silvery scales, typically found on the scalp, elbows, knees and lower back.

7. Nail Psoriasis

Changes in the nails, such as pitting, separation from the nail bed or discoloration.

8. Fatigue

Similar to fibromyalgia, fatigue is a significant symptom in psoriatic arthritis and can impair daily functioning.

Understanding Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune condition wherein the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissue, particularly in the joints and skin. The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed that a combination of genetic, environmental and immunological factors contributes to its development.

Inflammatory Foods to Avoid

Certain foods can exacerbate inflammation in the body and might worsen the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. These include:

  • Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup: These can trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines.
  • Fried foods: They contain trans fats, which drive inflammation.
  • Refined carbohydrates: White flour products can increase inflammation as they lead to higher production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
  • Excessive alcohol: High consumption can disrupt the gut-barrier function, leading to inflammation.
  • Processed meats: These contain saturated fats and advanced glycation end products, both of which are associated with increased inflammation.

The Link Between Fibromyalgia and Psoriatic Arthritis

There is evidence that people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis have a greater prevalence of fibromyalgia. The exact link is not fully understood; however, shared risk factors like genetic predisposition and chronic inflammation may play a role in developing both conditions. Chronic pain and inflammation from psoriatic arthritis could potentially trigger or worsen fibromyalgia symptoms and vice versa.

Treatment Options for Psoriatic Arthritis

While there is currently no cure for psoriatic arthritis, various treatments can help to manage its symptoms. Here are some common therapies for psoriatic arthritis.

  • NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Acetaminophen: While not anti-inflammatory, it can relieve pain, but won’t address joint inflammation.
  • Cold and heat therapy: Ice packs and warm compresses may offer temporary symptom relief.
  • Corticosteroids: These drugs can reduce inflammation quickly and are sometimes injected directly into affected joints.
  • Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs): These medications aim to slow the progression of psoriatic arthritis and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage.
  • Inflectra: Inflectra (Infliximab-Dyyb) is a biologic TNF inhibitor, which can help reduce inflammation by blocking the action of a substance in the body that leads to inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist can help patients engage in appropriate exercises to retain joint flexibility and function.
  • Occupational therapy: An occupational therapist can provide support to maintain an independent lifestyle with psoriatic arthritis, including tools and strategies for daily activities.

Unraveling the Complexities

While fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis are different conditions, the possible link between them suggests that individuals might face a combined challenge to their health and well-being. Recognition of this intersection is crucial for proper treatment and management. Both conditions necessitate a multidisciplinary approach to manage symptoms effectively, maintain quality of life and reduce the overall burden of disease.