In an article on her sister Kourtney's lifestyle blog Poosh, Kim Kardashian shared her journey with psoriasis, including how she experienced complications like joint pain and fatigue. Not knowing what was happening to her body made her "beyond scared," but she wrote that she was "happy to have a diagnosis" after visiting her doctor. After ruling out a lupus diagnosis, which was chronicled on recent episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, he determined Kardashian had psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory autoimmune condition that can accompany psoriasis and cause bone-deep pain in your joints.
Kardashian had known since she was a child that she had psoriasis, which is an autoimmune condition that makes skin cells turn over quickly. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this can result in a build-up of skin on your body that might look scaly patches. But she hadn't known that she also had psoriatic arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease that may accompany psoriasis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 30% of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis at some point in their lives.
When she woke up one night unable to use her phone because of painful stiffness in her hands, Kardashian "thought it was strange but maybe I just slept on my hands weird," she wrote for Poosh. But when the pain didn't go away the next morning, people in her life assumed the achiness was from her previous day's workout. She needed to go to a doctor before her feeling that the pain was "in my bones" could be confirmed.
The experience and fear of not knowing what's happening in your body before diagnosis is common for many people with psoriatic arthritis. According to a 2016 Health Union report, the wide variety of symptoms that manifest with the condition contribute to the frequent difficulty and frustration with getting diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Fighting for your pain to be recognized as "real" by doctors can be especially difficult given the particular challenges of living with psoriatic arthritis.
According to the report, 82% of people with psoriatic arthritis experience extreme fatigue that they try to hide from others, and 71% report experiencing a variety of different kinds of pain. Describing these realities to doctors and receiving a reliable diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis can be especially difficult. This is especially true for people of color with psoriasis, who are less likely to be diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis due to a combination of racial bias in doctor training and inequitable access to quality dermatological care, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.
And an initial diagnosis of psoriasis is important in helping doctors quickly and accurately diagnose psoriatic arthritis, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Psoriasis Forum. The underlying factor of all these symptoms, however, is that psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, meaning it causes the body's immune system to attack itself. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, there is not a singular trigger that activates this kind of response in people with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.
However, it seems that autoimmune and autoinflammatory responses in your body might be working together to activate your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Current Opinion in Immunology. Therefore, the National Psoriasis Foundation advises on their website that when managing your psoriatic arthritis symptoms, anti-inflammatories such as aspirin and ibuprofen may be particularly helpful. Prescription treatments, too, administered by both injection and orally, can also be helpful for managing and even slowing the progression of your symptoms.
Because, as Kardashian pointed out in her article, the pain from psoriatic arthritis can often be "so unbearable." But seeking a proper diagnosis and treatment help — and finding community in story's like Kardashian's can remind you that you aren't alone in your journey with this autoimmune condition.