What do classical pianist Byron Janis, the late guitar master Shawn Lane and Hall of Fame golfer Phil Mickelson have in common — besides super-talented hands and fingers? Psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis strikes up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition that causes chronic irritation and plaques. PA typically triggers joint pain, stiffness, and swelling of the fingertips and spine, and flare-ups may happen after long periods of remission.
When Byron Janis and Shawn Lane were diagnosed, the best treatments were nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and steroids such as hydrocortisone. Today, we have more effective medications, such as disease-modifying antirheumatics and biologics (which suppress a specific inflammatory protein — tumor necrosis factor). The net effect of such newer drugs is to slow or prevent joint damage.
It's essential that diagnosis and treatment of PA start early, because joint damage can't be reversed once it happens — at least not yet. Phil Mickelson was able to save his career because he got to a rheumatologist in time and stopped joint damage from progressing. So, if you have psoriasis, look out for joint aches and pains, swelling of fingers or hands, and general fatigue. There's no one test to diagnose the problem, but starting treatment promptly, losing weight if you need to (it takes mucho pressure off joints), and upgrading your nutrition will boost your immune system and control inflammation. These steps provide big benefits for years to come. Just ask Phil.
© 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.