Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in your joints. It can be caused by the wear and tear of normal aging or by an autoimmune condition that attacks the cells in your joints.
Psoriasis usually affects your skin cells, but in about 30 to 33 percent of people with psoriasis, it can also attack your joints, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. This is called psoriatic arthritis, and it can lead to pain in your knees and other joints.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that causes your skin cells to build up and form patches that are dry and itchy. Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that develops in people who have psoriasis. It can affect any of your joints, including your knee.
Autoimmune conditions are caused by your immune system attacking the healthy cells in your body. When you have psoriasis, the immune system reaction results in your skin cells growing too fast. It can also cause your immune system to begin attacking the cells in your knee and other joints, which leads to inflammation and pain.
Psoriatic arthritis can feel different for different people. You might experience dull pain that is easily managed or a throbbing pain that gets worse with time.
The pain of psoriatic arthritis in your knee can make it difficult to walk because it can cause stiffness and swelling in your knees. Other knee pain symptoms might include:
- pain that is more severe in the morning or after resting
- pain while kneeling or climbing stairs
- pain in the front of you knee when you stand up
- redness and warmth
- limited motion and flexibility
- cracking or popping sounds when you bend or extend your knee
- a grinding feeling when you bend or extend your knee
- locking or buckling when you stand or bend your knees
- pain that spreads to the tendons and ligaments of your knee
Most people with psoriatic arthritis also experience symptoms throughout their bodies. These can include:
- eye inflammation
- muscle pain and weakness
- back inflammation and pain
- scalp and nail psoriasis
- organ damage
When to schedule a medical appointment
Some knee pain can be managed at home with rest and ice, but it’s a good idea to see a medical professional for knee pain that is lasting or severe. Seek medical care if:
- your knee pain was caused by a recent injury
- your knee is red and warm
- your knee is swollen
- you can’t bend your knee
- you can’t straighten your knee
- you’re having difficulty walking on your knee
You can visit your primary care provider to discuss knee pain. They might refer you to a specialist called a rheumatologist.
Treatments for psoriatic arthritis aim to slow down disease progression and help manage pain in your knee and other joints. The right treatment plan for you will depend on your level of pain and overall health. Treatments might include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication. Medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen can be used to reduce your pain.
- Corticosteroid injections. You can receive corticosteroid injections to your knee to help reduce swelling and pain.
- Topical pain creams. Topical pain creams can be helpful. However, people with psoriatic arthritis should be cautious with these creams, as they can irritate your skin and make psoriasis worse.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. These medications can help treat your pain and prevent joint damage. However, long-term use can weaken your immune system, and monitoring is needed to prevent organ damage.
- Immunosuppressive medications. These medications can help calm your immune system, reducing inflammation, and include the highly specific biologic medications. However, they also can make it harder for you to prevent and treat infections.
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you work on strengthening your knee and reduce your pain.
Psoriatic arthritis can cause severe damage to your knee. Treatments such as medication and physical therapy can help prevent extensive damage, but they are not always successful at stopping disease progression.
In this case, your doctor might recommend knee replacement surgery to replace your knee joint. As with any of the treatments listed above, there are risks and benefits to weigh with knee replacement surgery.
Tips for coping with knee PA at home
There are also steps you can take to manage your knee pain at home. You can try the following at-home tips along with your doctor-prescribed treatment plan:
- Do low impact exercises such as swimming, yoga, or walking to reduce stress on your knee.
- Wear comfortable and supportive shoes to reduce impact to your knee.
- Take hot baths or use heating pads to relieve your knee pain.
- Use ice packs to reduce swelling and pain.
- Try medication or guided breathing to help reduce pain and lower stress.
- Use canes or walkers to reduce the weight on your knee.
- Use a knee brace to keep your knee joint in place.
- Avoid activities that make your knee pain worse.
- Lose any excess weight to help take pressure off of your knee joint.
- Reduce your stress levels.
Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition. There are periods of remission and then flare-ups with pain and symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for the condition. However, treatments can help manage your pain and slow the progression of the condition. Early treatment can help prevent joint damage and the need for surgery.
Psoriatic arthritis can affect the joints throughout your body, including your knees. It can cause your knees to be stiff and swollen, making it difficult to walk or bend them.
There is no cure available for psoriatic arthritis, but treatments can help you manage the pain in your knees and other symptoms. Early treatment can help you avoid surgery. So if you’ve been having knee pain, it’s a good idea to make a medical appointment.