Meet the Members of Your Psoriatic Arthritis Team
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. | Jan 16, 2018
Psoriatic arthritis affects up to 30 percent of people living with psoriasis. If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, you know that you can experience a variety of problems throughout your body during flares. Because the issues related to psoriatic arthritis vary so widely, you most likely will need several different healthcare professionals to keep you feeling your best. They may include the following practitioners.
Primary Care Doctor
If you have a close relationship with your primary care doctor (PCP), there is a good chance that she was the one to suggest that you may have psoriatic arthritis after coming in with random and seemingly unrelated ailments. After her initial suspicions, she may have then referred you to a rheumatologist for a definitive diagnosis. Your PCP can be a tremendous asset if she is kept in the loop throughout the disease process and treatment.
According to the American College of Rheumatology, a rheumatologist is an internist who received training in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases. Rheumatologists complete four years of medical school followed by three years of residency training. They then enroll in a fellowship to learn about rheumatic disease and take a board examination. Because they have seen so many variations in autoimmune disorders, rheumatologists are familiar with unusual or random symptoms.
Podiatrist or Orthopedic Foot Surgeon
Your PsA may introduce several different foot problems from sore and swollen toes to tenderness or pain where tendons or ligaments attach to bones in your feet. This may present as Achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis. Depending on your issues, you may need to involve a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle issues. Your general practitioner can recommend an appropriate foot specialist for you.
If you have psoriatic arthritis, you also have psoriasis, a disease that causes raised, discolored scaly patches to appear on the skin and scalp, as well as changes to your nails. Most likely, you already have a dermatologist on your team.
Psoriatic arthritis produces widespread inflammation and causes harm to the lungs. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is more likely to occur in patients with psoriatic arthritis, according to the British Journal of Dermatology. A pulmonologist can help address decreased lung function. If you cannot find a pulmonologist in your area, try calling a nearby allergist for a suggestion.
Inflammation from psoriatic arthritis can cause joint stiffness and a decreased range of motion. Your primary doctor or rheumatologist may recommend that you see a physical therapist (PT) to help keep you active through the flare-ups. A PT can show you exercises to increase your strength and flexibility and reduce your pain.
Orthopedist or Chiropractor
Living with psoriatic arthritis means you are more likely to have back pain, according to the American College of Rheumatology. There are several different medical providers who may be helpful. An orthopedic doctor specializes in the health of your bones and joints. A chiropractor may also be helpful for back pain. Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine and many chiropractic doctors focus their efforts on the spine.
Optometrist or Ophthalmologist
Psoriatic arthritis can lead to different eye disorders related to eye inflammation. Both optometrists and ophthalmologists are medical professionals who manage eye health but differ in level of training: an ophthalmologist can perform surgery and treat all eye diseases. Your primary care doctor may recommend you see an optometrist first and refer you to an ophthalmologist if there are any concerns.
According to Arthritis Care and Research, people with psoriatic arthritis are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A cardiologist specializes in blood vessels, the heart, and the cardiovascular system. Cardiologists also practice preventive medicine, so your primary care doctor may suggest that you see a cardiologist even if your heart is healthy.
Psychologist or Therapist
Chronic pain can go hand-in-hand with depression. When your PsA symptoms are at their worst, it is easy to lose hope that you will ever feel completely well again. Having someone on your team who can focus on your mental well-being can be extremely helpful.