About Psoriatic Arthritis

What is psoriatic arthritis?

Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis also develop an inflammatory form of arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis.

Questions on the quiz (called the Psoriasis Epidemiology Screening Tool, or PEST) ask about some of the common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. For example, swollen and tender joints as well as swollen and painful fingers and toes can be signs of psoriatic arthritis.

Other signs may be similar to what you see with your psoriasis. Changes in your fingernails, such as when your nail separates from your nail bed or your nails become pitted and crumbling, are symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis can also have warning signs that aren’t included on the quiz. For example, psoriatic arthritis can cause morning stiffness and a general sense of fatigue that lasts all day.

Psoriatic arthritis can be different for everyone. If it’s less severe, it might be called oligoarticular psoriatic arthritis. That means that it affects four or fewer joints. If it affects more than four joints, it’s called polyarticular.

If you experience inflammation in your spine as part of your psoriatic arthritis, you have something called spondylitis.

If you have inflammation in places where your ligaments and tendons insert into your bones—such as in your pelvis or your Achilles’ tendon—you have enthesitis.

Doctors may refer to swollen fingers and toes as dactylitis.

What happens if I have psoriatic arthritis?

If left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can permanently damage your joints and bones. Severe psoriatic arthritis that is not controlled by medication sometimes results in disability. Even less severe psoriatic arthritis can dramatically affect your quality of life, making it difficult to manage everyday tasks around the house or on the job. 

Emotional impact is also part of the picture. People with psoriatic arthritis may be more likely to feel depressed. Sometimes the disease can interfere with social activities and relationships.

That’s why it’s important to get diagnosed for psoriatic arthritis as soon as possible. Once you’re diagnosed, your doctor can help you find the right treatment for you. 

Research shows that the sooner you’re diagnosed, the better your health will be in the long-term. Patients who wait more than six months before getting diagnosed and starting treatment typically have worse clinical outcomes. On top of experiencing more severe bone and joint deterioration, these patients may not respond as well to treatment.

Today, there are many safe and effective treatments that can ease the symptoms and even slow the progression of the disease. Treatment options include anti-inflammatories, oral treatments and biologics. 

Thanks to innovative research, the coming years will see many more treatment options that will dramatically improve outcomes for people with psoriatic arthritis.

How can I get diagnosed and start treatment for psoriatic arthritis?

If you think you have signs of psoriatic arthritis, or if you just want to learn more about the disease, make an appointment with your dermatologist. Your dermatologist might recommend that you see a rheumatologist.

Rheumatologists are doctors who specialize in arthritis. They are your best resource for managing your psoriatic arthritis. Your rheumatologist will perform a clinical exam and ask you questions to decide if you have psoriatic arthritis. If it’s time to start treatment, your rheumatologist will discuss the benefits and potential risks of your treatment options.

Your dermatologist or primary care physician can help you find a rheumatologist. The Patient Navigation Center can also work with you to find a rheumatologist near you who specializes in psoriatic arthritis.