How a Rheumatologist and a Dermatologist Work Together to Treat PsA
Psoriatic disease is an inflammation disorder. It is an umbrella term for two conditions: Psoriasis and sarcoidosis.
Psoriasis generally affects the skin and causes plaques or lesions to appear. PsA primarily affects the joints, causing pain and stiffness. People with psoriatic disease may also experience issues with other organs and tissues, and they have a higher chance of developing heart disease or diabetes.
About 30 percent of people living with psoriasis also develop PsA. You may develop PsA without having psoriasis, but it’s not common.
A person will often have a team of doctors and specialists. A rheumatologist and a dermatologist are included in this team. Diagnostic and treatment practices may be more effective when these healthcare professionals work together.
Dermatologists often work with people living with psoriasis. With around
If you are already living with PsA, they will likely ask you about the symptoms. They can start to administer treatment for PsA if they identify it.
Early treatment is important to help prevent arthritis from getting worse and causing joint damage. About 40 to 60 percent of people living with PsA will develop joint deformity, which leads to reduced quality of life.
Diseases that affect the joints and muscles are the specialties of rhumatologists. A rheumatologist can provide an initial diagnosis of PsA or develop a treatment plan.
A rheumatologist can help you develop a treatment plan that works for you. They will be the doctor you see for managing your medication, and reporting any issues.
Diagnosing PsA can be difficult, but it’s important to diagnose the condition as soon as possible for more successful treatment outcomes. Early treatment can help prevent permanent joint damage.
The best results may occur when the rheumatologists and dermatologists work together to diagnose the condition. According to a
PsA has symptoms that are similar to other types of arthritis, so it can be difficult to determine if it is PsA or not. There is no standard practice for PsA diagnosis.
Symptoms a dermatologist or rheumatologist may look for when diagnosing PsA include:
- There is pain and swelling in the joints.
- Inflammation and stiffness get worse with rest.
- Pain and swelling in the joints are caused by enthesitis.
- The nail is covered in skin.
- Swelling of the toes and fingers is called dactylitis.
According to a 2021 study conducted in China, one factor that affects a rheumatologist’s ability to diagnose PsA effectively is whether they work full time or part time. These findings may not apply the same way in the United States, but they provide helpful insight into the need for rheumatologists to have experience with and be involved in the diagnosis.
Psoriasis often presents before PsA. Due to the likelihood of comorbidity of the two conditions, your dermatologist may be more open to a PsA diagnosis if you have psoriasis and develop joint pain.
When a rheumatologist and dermatologist work together, treatment outcomes for PsA may improve.
Treatments for PsA and Psoriasis overlap. Some of the treatments used to treat one can also help treat the other. Systemic treatments can include drugs.
A person with PsA will need to communicate with the doctors which treatment they give. The rheumatologist may work on treating the disease and joint pain, while the dermatologist may work on skin care.
Treatments for psoriatic disease include:
- There are systemic medications.
- There are creams and ointments.
- Alternative medicines include yoga and acupuncture.
Systemic medications target inflammation. NSAIDs are pain medications and may be recommended by your rheumatologist.
A diagnosis may come earlier and treatment outcomes may improve if a person with PsA seeks care from a rheumatologist and a dermatologist. It can help slow disease progression and prevent joint damage.
Dermatologists often work with people living with psoriasis, and rheumatologists specialize in diseases affecting the joints and muscles. About 30 percent of people living with psoriasis develop PsA.
If you can work together with your doctors, you can improve your PsA.