Psoriatic arthritis and dizziness: the link, the treatment

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects approximately 20 to 30 percent people with psoriasis, an autoimmune disease. It develops when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your joints, leading to symptoms such as joint pain, stiffness or swelling.

For some people, the symptoms can be severe enough to cause permanent disability.

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can have many complications caused by inflammation throughout your body. Inflammation of the inner ear can cause dizziness or vertigo. Some medications used to treat psoriasis can also cause these side effects.

Read on to learn more about the link between psoriatic arthritis and dizziness and vertigo.

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis increase levels of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines throughout your body. High levels of these molecules lead to chronic inflammation which can increase the risk of many seemingly unrelated conditions, such as:

Dizziness and lightheadedness are also potential complications of psoriatic arthritis. They mainly develop due to an atypical immune response directed against cells in your inner ear.

When your immune system attacks these cells, it can lead to inflammation and dysfunction in your vestibular system. Your vestibular system is a series of bony labyrinths in your inner ear that help regulate your sense of balance.

In a small study 2017the researchers found evidence that people with psoriatic arthritis had a higher frequency of vestibular dysfunction than the general population.

Among 60 people with psoriatic arthritis and 60 controls, one-third of people with psoriatic arthritis had vestibular dysfunction, compared with only 6% of people in the control group.

Drugs that cause dizziness

Psoriasis is often treated with medications like TNF-alpha inhibitors, T-cell inhibitors, and interleukin inhibitors. Some of the medications used to treat psoriasis, such as the following, can potentially cause dizziness as a side effect:

Vertigo is often confused with dizziness. The two conditions are similar but not identical.

Vertigo is the sensation that the world is spinning in the absence of movement. Vertigo is a more general term that refers to the feeling that you or those around you are moving when they are not moving.

The inflammation of the inner ear associated with psoriatic arthritis can also contribute to the development of vertigo.

In the study 2017the researchers found that two people with psoriatic arthritis had vertigo, compared to no one in the control group.

Treatment for psoriatic arthritis can help reduce associated inflammation and help relieve dizziness or lightheadedness. The treatment of psoriatic arthritis focuses on:

  • improve your quality of life
  • slow the progression of your condition
  • reduce your symptoms

The main medications for psoriatic arthritis include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs are often the first drugs used to help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with psoriatic arthritis. They may include ibuprofen or COX-2 inhibitors like celecoxib.
  • Corticosteroids. Corticosteroid injections are used to reduce swelling in just one joint, while oral corticosteroids can help reduce inflammation throughout your body. Oral corticosteroids are often prescribed conservatively due to the risk of side effects.
  • Disease Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs). DMARDs work by blocking the chemicals released when your immune system damages your joints. They can help reduce symptoms or slow the progression of arthritis.
  • Biological treatments. Biological treatments can be offered to you if DMARDs are not effective. They work by blocking the pathways in your body that create inflammation.

Vestibular rehabilitation is an exercise program that can help reduce dizziness or vertigo. Research has shown that it can be effective in treating the symptoms of many inner ear disorders. It is usually performed by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist with specialized training.

Psoriatic arthritis mainly affects the joints of the fingers, wrists, ankles or knees. Symptoms can include:

  • pain
  • tenderness
  • heat
  • swelling

Some people also experience symptoms that affect their nails. They may include:

If psoriatic arthritis isn’t treated properly, you can develop other health problems like:

  • damage to the cartilage at the ends of your bones
  • redness and pain around the eyes
  • eyesight problems

It’s generally a good idea to see a doctor anytime you experience dizziness or lightheadedness with no known cause.

Medical emergency

It’s important to seek emergency medical attention immediately if you also have symptoms that could indicate a medical emergency, such as:

Most people who develop psoriatic arthritis already have a diagnosis of psoriasis. Regular check-ups with your doctor are an important part of treating psoriasis. It’s a good idea to see your doctor if:

  • you notice new symptoms of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis
  • your psoriasis is causing persistent itching
  • your condition has an impact on your daily life
  • your joints hurt
  • you have questions about the treatment

Dizziness and vertigo are potential side effects of psoriatic arthritis.

They can develop due to inflammation in the part of your inner ear that controls your balance, called your vestibular system. Certain medications used to treat psoriatic arthritis can also cause these symptoms.

If you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, it’s important to see a doctor any time you notice new symptoms. A doctor can help rule out other causes for these new symptoms and help you develop the best treatment plan.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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