About Psoriatic Arthritis

By Freedom 360

Medically reviewed by Freedom 360 Panel of Doctors

As a psoriasis patient, have you ever wondered about the possibility of getting psoriatic arthritis as well? Research shows that up to 30 per cent of people with psoriasis will develop this condition.i Doctors believe that both genetic and environmental factors play a part in psoriatic arthritis.

Although the exact cause of it is unknown, in 80 per cent of cases patients develop psoriasis before they develop psoriatic arthritis.ii For example, if you suffer from nail psoriasis, it may progress to psoriatic arthritis in your hand. However, there are also cases where the arthritis develops before the lesions.

While psoriasis is a risk factor for developing psoriatic arthritis, the two conditions can occur many years apart. For example, some patients have psoriasis for 20 years before they develop psoriatic arthritis, while other patients may have psoriatic arthritis for 20 years before they develop any signs of psoriasis ii.

Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint in the body. Some places, like the joints closest to the fingertips, are more prone to psoriatic arthritis than other types of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis can also affect other organs including the eyes and sometimes, the heart, lungs and kidneys.iii

Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritisiv

  • Joint pain and swelling that may be accompanied by redness and warmth
  • Tenderness where muscles or ligaments attach to the bones, particularly the heel and bottom of the foot
  • Inflammation of the spinal column, called spondylitis, which can cause pain and stiffness in the neck and lower back
  • Morning stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion of the joints
  • Painful, sausage-like swelling of the fingers and/or toes

Types of Psoriatic Arthritisv

  • Asymmetric arthritis is the most common form of psoriatic arthritis, affecting about 70 per cent of sufferers. As the name suggests, the condition does not affect the same joints on both sides of your body. It causes joints to be swollen and warm to the touch. Although this is one of the moderate cases of psoriatic arthritis, it may be crippling.
  • Symmetric arthritis is the opposite of asymmetric arthritis – it affects the same joints on both sides of your body. This is the second most common type of psoriatic arthritis. Although less disabling, this condition is linked to severe psoriasis. Females also have a higher chance of getting symmetric arthritis.
  • Spondylitis is a condition that specifically affects your spine. It causes spinal inflammation and might lead to stiffness in the lower spine, the neck and the tailbone area. Do not let this condition go unrecognized as it can impair your movements when it deteriorates.
  • Distal interphalangeal predominant is a less common condition that usually affects men. It affects the nails and the joints closest to the nails.
  • Arthritis mutilans, although it only affects about five per cent of psoriatic arthritis patients, it is the most serious and crippling form of the condition. It causes the small bones in the fingers, feet, neck and back to disintegrate resulting in permanent disfigurement.

Prolonged inflammation can cause joint damage so early detection is imperative. However, there is no known cure for psoriatic arthritis so treatment focuses more on reducing inflammation and progressively reducing joint damage. Joint damage, when allowed to progress, can potentially be disabling.

If you have or suspect that you may have psoriatic arthritis, do seek help early.