Upon reviewing the rant in my previous post, I forgot to put the rant in context: I have Psoriatic Arthritis.
“Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that combines symptoms of psoriasis, such as dry, scaly skin and patches of red, raised skin known as plaques, with arthritis symptoms including joint pain and inflammation. Common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include varying degrees of psoriasis activity along with stiffness, pain, swelling and tenderness of the joints that can lead to a reduced range of motion and potential severe joint destruction.”
According to the Psoriasis Foundation, Psoriasis affects about 4.5 million people in the U.S., about 3% of the population in general. About 23% of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis. About 5% of people with psoriatic arthritis have involvement of the spine. I’m one of them. I suppose that makes me special, in the greater scheme of things.
I’ve had vague diagnoses of arthritis and related conditions since I was about 12, but I didn’t get an official diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis until earlier this year. The diagnosis came after a major flare up of both the skin and the joints last fall. The joint pain had been masquerading as a possible stroke or aneurysm. CTs and MRIs finally revealed that the C3 vertebra in my neck was affected with the arthritis, pinching a nerve and sending false signals to the entire left side of my body.
Other symptoms of my psoriatic arthritis include pain, redness, swelling and reduced motion in the joints of the hands, feet, and spine; inflammation of tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and eyes; Stiffness; fatigue; and a lovely flaky rash on the skin and scalp.
Since April, I’ve been on an escalating dose of anti-inflammatory pain medications, immunosuppressant to reduce the inflammation response, and muscle relaxants to reduce the muscle spasms. Side effects of the medications include a suppressed immune system, nausea, fatigue, weight gain, and insomnia.
I’m seeing some improvements in my hands, feet, and skin. But my neck continues to worsen, and with it so do the muscle spasms, pain, fatigue, and inability to sleep well. As a result, I’m slow, clumsy, and irritable.
I’ll find out on November 12 what next step my rheumatologist has planned for my treatment protocol. The current treatment isn’t doing the job.