About Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis affects about 30% of people with psoriasis.

(Mease et al., 2013)

Did You Know?

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the joints and where tendons and ligaments connect to bone. Like psoriasis, PsA is associated with related health conditions (comorbidities).

It can start at any age and may affect children. The disease often appears between ages 30 and 50. For many people, it starts about 10 years after psoriasis develops, but some develop PsA first or without ever developing or noticing psoriasis.

Though there is no cure, there is a growing range of treatments available to help stop the disease progression, lessen pain, protect joints and preserve range of motion. If you have or suspect you may have PsA, it is extremely important to work with a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in how the immune system affects joints, bone and muscles) to find the right treatment plan. For help finding a rheumatologist near you, contact the Patient Navigation Center.

Early recognition, diagnosis and treatment of PsA can prevent or limit the extensive joint damage that can occur in later stages of the disease.

Symptoms of PsA

PsA can develop slowly, with mild symptoms, or it can develop quickly and severely. Some people may develop PsA in a joint after an injury. Development may also be related to genetics. Scientists estimate that at least 10 percent of the general population inherits one or more of the genes that create a predisposition to psoriasis.

Common symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Tenderness, pain and swelling over tendons
  • Swollen fingers and toes that sometimes resemble sausages
  • Stiffness, pain, throbbing, swelling and tenderness in one or more joints
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Morning stiffness and tiredness
  • Nail changes, such as pitting or separation from the nail bed
  • Redness and pain of the eye (uveitis)
  • There is little connection between psoriasis severity and PsA severity. You could have few skin lesions but many joints affected by arthritis.

How PsA is Diagnosed

Unfortunately, there is no definitive diagnostic test for PsA. The diagnosis is made mostly by your doctor’s observations and by a process of elimination. For example, the symptoms of PsA are similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis, gout and reactive arthritis. Your doctor will talk with you about your medical history and may perform a physical examination, blood tests, MRI and X-rays.

If you think you might have PsA, take this short five-question screener. Share your results with your health care provider.

Are you at risk?

PsA Locations

PsA can occur in any joint or wherever your ligaments and tendons connect to bone. Learn more about the symptoms and signs of PsA, including spondylitis, enthesitis and dactylitis.

Know the signs

What You Can Do

Treatments for PsA range from oral medications that reduce inflammation and swelling to biologic therapies that are injected or infused, while targeting specific parts of your immune system to combat PsA symptoms and slow joint damage.

You should see a rheumatologist to receive the highest standard of specialized care for your joints and connective tissues. Ask your health care provider to refer you to a rheumatologist or contact the Patient Navigation Center for help finding a rheumatologist in your area.

You have treatment options

Life with PsA

The impact of PsA on your quality of life is similar to that of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). But there are significantly fewer resources for people living with PsA than there are for people with RA.

These inequalities in health resources have led to an unacceptable situation regarding PsA:

  • Inadequate research
  • Symptoms often misunderstood or not treated effectively
  • Diagnoses often delayed
  • Conflicting information that impacts the management of the disease
  • Lack of understanding on how the disease can impact quality of life
  • Too few rheumatologists with PsA knowledge and experience
Tips for a healthy life

Connect with the Patient Navigation Center

Learn more about PsA, its symptoms, treatment options and ways to live a healthy life .

Get in touch today

Mease, P. J., Gladman, D. D., Papp, K. A., Khraishi, M. M., Thaci, D., Behrens, F., . . . Alvarez, D. (2013). Prevalence of rheumatologist-diagnosed psoriatic arthritis in patients with psoriasis in European/North American dermatology clinics. J Am Acad Dermatol, 69(5), 729-735. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2013.07.023

Last updated on 9/17/20 by the National Psoriasis Foundation.

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