Thanks for all your comments of support on my last post about my paws and my neck.
I saw my specialist again yesterday for the results of my X-ray and blood work -- and everything seems quite positive.
The X-rays showed the joints in my hands are completely normally and haven't suffered any damage.
The blood work revealed I'm in pretty good health all round -- I'm not diabetic, nor am I anaemic, my cholesterol level is normal, my liver and kidneys are functioning as they should, and all other measurements fall into the normal range. However, there was one little protein (or enzyme or something), which was off the scale, indicating that I'm suffering from inflammation. No surprises there!
One particularly good bit of news was that my blood lacks the "rheumatoid factor" which causes rheumatoid arthritis, so this pretty much confirms that the inflammation is tissue-related and therefore psoriatic.
As for treatment, I've been given a choice: continue taking the anti-inflammatory medication indefinitely, as and when I need it (psoriatic arthritis is apparently one of those conditions that comes and goes depending on a whole range of factors such as stress and overall health) or I can have a one-off injection of a steroid which should "switch off" the inflammation, although there are no guarantees that the inflammation won't return at a later date.
The specialist realises that there are some people who won't touch a steroid with a ten-foot barge pole, so he has given me some time to think about what I want to do. However, to throw a spanner in the works (as is my want), I told him that I have been suffering from night sweats and assumed this was to do with the arthritis.
He said it was "definitely not a normal symptom" and, if I'm honest, I think he was slightly cross that I hadn't told him this on our initial consultation. Woops.
He said if I was to have the steroid injection it was vital that my body was not harbouring any infection, because the steroid can mask the symptoms and I could get very sick indeed. So he promptly sent me off for a chest X-ray and has asked me to return in late January for another consultation and some more blood work -- just to make sure.
So, the saga continues, but I feel a bit better about the whole situation now, as I had been worried about my little paws and not being able to use them properly in the future. Having done some online research, I'm inclined to go down the injection route, especially as it will help my stiff neck, but we'll see what the doctor says when I visit him next time...