Recent survey results indicate approximately 1 million U.S. adults have psoriatic arthritis. This figure is significantly higher than researchers had previously believed, and suggests many people with psoriasis, a related skin disease, may not be aware they have psoriatic arthritis. This is according to a new study conducted by the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).
The majority of individuals surveyed said the disease seriously affects their daily living, and many people are dissatisfied with the medical treatment they have received. The research also suggests
Psoriatic arthritis is a progressive, chronic, inflammatory form of arthritis. An immune-system disease, psoriatic arthritis causes pain and swelling in and around the joints that can lead to permanent damage. It can affect the hands, wrists, knees, ankles, back and feet. Symptoms also include fatigue and stiffness.
“Psoriatic arthritis can be a disabling disease and can cause permanent damage when left untreated,” said Gail M. Zimmerman, NPF president and CEO. “It’s vital that we educate the public and medical community about the disease and its effects. We want people who have psoriatic arthritis to seek treatment in order to improve their quality of life.”
The NPF Benchmark Survey for Psoriatic Arthritis is the first research to establish the prevalence of psoriatic arthritis among U.S. adults.
In surveys conducted in December 2001 of more than 27,000 adults, one-half of 1 percent said they had been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. That translates to about 1 million of the total U.S. adult population, roughly double the number that the medical community previously suspected had the disease.
The survey shows a strong link between psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. About 85 percent of those with psoriatic arthritis reported that they have psoriasis. At the same time, about one-third of those with psoriasis said they suffer from joint stiffness, but had not been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis.
“This suggests that many of these people may have psoriatic arthritis and not know it,” Zimmerman said. “They need to talk to their doctors about their symptoms.”
Disease changes people’s lives Follow-up interviews were conducted with 448 people who had been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Of those, 84 percent said psoriatic arthritis had a moderate to large impact on their everyday lives. Three-fourths said they lose sleep or sleep badly as a result of the disease, and nearly two-thirds said it has forced them to alter their daily activities.
“We’re hopeful this new data on the prevalence of psoriatic arthritis will encourage the medical community to conduct further research and develop new therapies,” Zimmerman said.
About one in four people surveyed said they are dissatisfied with the medical treatment they
.have received for their psoriatic arthritis.
“There have been various medications used, though not formally approved, to treat psoriatic arthritis. However, many people have found those medications were less than effective or produced troublesome side effects,” said Alice Gottlieb, M.D., Ph.D., W.H. Conzen chair in clinical pharmacology, professor of medicine and director of the Clinical Research Center at UMDNJ- Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, N.J. Zimmerman said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval today of Enbrel as a treatment for psoriatic arthritis is one step in the right direction toward getting help for people with the disease.