Psoriatic Arthritis in Children
Most people have heard of psoriasis, a skin condition that causes a red, scaly and itchy rash. In some cases, arthritis can precede, follow or even occur without the onset of skin psoriasis. Although psoriasis typically affects adults 30-50 years old, it can also affect children.
Psoriatic arthritis in very young children typically will involve less than five joints, however older children may have many joints involved. There are also children that can have tendon, spinal and sacroiliac involvement.
The exact cause of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are still being investigated, however we do know that there is a higher risk in individuals who have family members with psoriasis or other disorders suggesting a genetic (inherited) component.
We also know that both psoriasis and arthritis are auto-immune disorders which develop when the immune system starts to attack parts of the body. Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis in children can include:
- Mild joint pain
- Joint stiffness, often after inactivity like in the mornings
- Swelling in the joint area including sausage-like swelling of fingers and toes
- Eye pain, redness or light sensitivity (indicating a complication called uveitis)
Of course, some of these symptoms can be signs of other health problems. That's why it's important you consult with your Boys Town Pediatrician for a thorough examination.
Early diagnosis may prevent the condition from getting worse and can help your child manage the disease as effectively as possible. With early treatment, the disease can go into remission.
Treatment of Pediatric Psoriatic Arthritis
Treatments will be different for every child. Treatment choices often depend on your child's age, degree of arthritis, degree of skin disease, if there is evidence of eye inflammation of the combination of these features.
Your child's treatment team will include a pediatric rheumatologist, dermatologist and an ophthalmologist. In addition, physical or occupational therapy can help with musculoskeletal symptoms.
Specific treatments could include:
- NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen to relieve pain
- Disease modifying agents that help reset the immune system
The best thing you can do for your child is to stay with the treatment plan:
- Encourage your child to get enough sleep.
- See that they exercise regularly.
- Accompany them to physical therapy and make it fun.
- Work with caregivers to ensure your child is taking part in school social activities.
- Find a support group for tips and ideas.
Psoriatic arthritis can be an anxiety-inducing diagnosis, but with the right care, your child can live a normal, and symptom-free life.