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Better screening needed for psoriatic arthritis patients

For the first time ever, researchers have joined together to call for better screening of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) – a type of arthritis that affects millions of people worldwide.

Stick men in a circleIn a recent Psoriatic Arthritis Forum, researchers, from expert rheumatologists to dermatologists to patient representatives in Europe and North America, have made some recommendations for the treatment and diagnosis of PsA. The recommendations were published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research. According to an article on www.Medicalexpress.com, the recommendations include:

  • Developing a screening tool for dermatologists and primary care doctors to identify suspected PsA patients
  • Raising awareness about the progression, health-related quality of life components, and other health issues associated with PsA
  • Improving communication between healthcare providers and patients

In an interview, Dr. Philip Helliwell, a member of the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds and the Psoriatic Arthritis Forum, said that researchers believe that up to 50% of psoriasis patients with psoriatic arthritis are undiagnosed, living with sore, stiff and tender joints, and do not under the underlying cause for their pain. Researchers aim to increase the detection rates for PsA and improve the quality of life for someone living with PsA.

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis which causes swelling and pain in and around joints, as well as a scaly rash on the skin. Joints most commonly affected are the fingers, wrists, toes, knees, shoulders, elbows, and ankles.

In addition to joints and skin, PsA affects the tendons and ligaments around the joints. This causes swelling, not just of joints, but of surrounding tissue as well. Psoriatic arthritis can also affect the spine - a form of the disease called psoriatic spondylitis.

Psoriatic arthritis affects men and women in equal numbers, and like many forms of inflammatory arthritis, it tends to strike people in the prime of their lives; most commonly, people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.

Researchers are also calling for improved referrals of patients and the creation of a formula or step-by-step how-to guide to assist primary care physicians on patient evaluation and treatment decisions.

Dr. Helliwell concluded: "These recommendations serve as a guide for improving the timely diagnosis of PsA, as well as promoting global awareness of PsA. We need to develop better screening tools as a matter of urgency, as these will be cost-effective and lead to better health outcomes for thousands of people."