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Information for Psoriatic Arthritis Sufferers

What is psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriasis of the skin and lead to psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis, which is caused by the skin disease psoriasis, causes swelling and pain in and around the joints. It can affect several joints including the fingers, wrists, toes, knees, ankles, elbows and shoulder joints, the spine and joints in the lower back.

Psoriasis is an uncomfortable skin condition where the body’s healing process tries to heal an area that isn’t injured, causing an excess build-up of new skin cells which form a red, white, or silver colored crust on the skin.

  • Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects psoriasis sufferers. Men and women are affected equally.
  • It can appear at any age, but usually develops in people between the ages of 20 and 50, and after the person has already been suffering from psoriasis for several years.
  • Psoriatic arthritis also affects tissues surrounding the joints including tendons and ligaments.
  • It may cause a swelling of the whole digit “sausage” finger or toe.
  • There is also skin inflammation, particularly on the elbows, knees and scalp.

There are 5 types of psoriatic arthritis:

  1. Symmetric. This affects the same joint on both sides of the body (for example, both knees). This type is also the most similar to rheumatoid arthritis.
  2. Asymmetric. The opposite of symmetric, as it does not affect the same joints on opposite sides of the body. Usually only affects 3 joints at a time.
  3. Spondylitis. This type generally affects the spine and neck.
  4. Distal interphalangeal predominant. This type affects the finger and toe joints. It’s recognized by the finger or toe nails changing in appearance.
  5. Arthritis mutilans. This destructive type can cause severe joint damage over several months or years.

Do I have it?

There are some warning signs of psoriatic arthritis, so if you experience the following, go see your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

  • Pain and swelling in the fingers or toes.
  • Fingernails or toenails lifting up from the skin or getting small holes in them (known as pitting).
  • Pain and swelling over tendons and ligaments.
  • Reduced range of motion in your joints.
  • Morning stiffness and tiredness.

How is it diagnosed?

hand joint pain could be psoriatic arhthritis.

Your doctor will probably be able to more easily diagnose you having psoriatic arthritis if you have psoriasis along with a single or several red, swollen fingers or toes. Usually, if your nails and skin are affected along with your joints, a firm diagnosis can be made.

This form of arthritis is similar to other forms such as gout, Reiter's syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis, so your doctor may perform the following:

  • A physical examination and order various tests to assist in diagnosis.
  • X-rays are often done to look for changes to the bone.
  • Blood and joint fluid tests may be used to rule out other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis, or gout.

If your doctor thinks you have psoriatic arthritis, he or she will refer you to a rheumatologist to begin treatment.

A rheumatologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of problems with joints, muscles and bones.



Do you have more questions?

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