Psoriatic arthritis is joint inflammation and stiffness (arthritis) that affects people who have a condition that causes red, itchy, and scaly skin patches (psoriasis). Signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are similar to other forms of arthritis and include stiff and painful joints. In addition, psoriatic arthritis can also cause finger and toe swelling, foot pain and lower back pain. Typically, psoriasis appears before joint problems. Psoriasis symptoms typically occur between the ages of 15 and 35 years and arthritis symptoms usually occur between the ages of 30 and 50. However, both conditions can occur at any age.
Psoriatic arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues. This abnormal immune response, which causes inflammation in your joints, may be due to a combination of genetic and environmental reasons. Risk factors for psoriatic arthritis include having psoriasis, being between the ages of 30 and 50, and having a family history of psoriatic arthritis. There are five types of psoriatic arthritis: distal interphalangeal (DIP), asymmetric oligoarticular, symmetric polyarthritis, spondylitis, and arthritis mutilans. The distal interphalangeal type predominantly affects the ends of fingers and toes. The symmetric polyarthritis form affects matching joints on opposite sides of the body (e.g. Right and left wrist), while the asymmetric oligoarticular type involves nonmatching joints of each side of the body. Spondylitis is inflammation in the joints between the vertebrae in the spine. Arthritis mutilans, which is the most severe and least common type of psoriatic arthritis, causes damage and loss of function of affected joints.
Your doctor may use a physical exam along with imaging and lab tests to diagnosis psoriatic arthritis. There is no cure, but treatment can help manage pain. Talk with a doctor if you have been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis to discuss the most current treatment options.