Learn about Psoriatic Arthritis symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, living well with psoriatic arthritis and how to find a doctor. Have questions about psoriatic disease? Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory form of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis can cause swelling, stiffness and pain in and around the joints, psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis nail changes and overall fatigue.
Early recognition, diagnosis and treatment of psoriatic arthritis are critical to relieve pain and inflammation and help prevent joint damage. What are the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis? How is psoriatic arthritis diagnosed? What kind of psoriatic arthritis do I have?
What should I do if I have psoriatic arthritis? What about children with psoriatic arthritis? What kind of services are there for those with psoriatic arthritis? Psoriatic arthritis can develop slowly with mild symptoms, or it can develop quickly and be severe.
Early recognition, diagnosis and treatment of psoriatic arthritis can help prevent or limit extensive joint damage that occurs in later stages of the disease. The disease can develop in a joint after an injury and may seem like a cartilage tear. You may also experience symptoms in your lower back, wrists, knees or ankle. In 85 percent of patients, psoriasis occurs before joint disease. If you have been diagnosed with psoriasis, it is important to tell your dermatologist if you have any aches and pains. There is little connection between your psoriasis severity and psoriatic arthritis severity. Having a severe case of psoriasis does not necessarily mean a person will have a severe case of psoriatic arthritis.
A person could have few skin lesions, but have many joints affected by the arthritis. If you experience joint aches and pains, talk to a doctor about diagnosis and treatment. Working with primary-care doctors or dermatologists often is the first step in diagnosing psoriatic arthritis, but psoriatic arthritis patients should consider seeing a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in arthritis. We are the world’s first, personalized support center for psoriatic disease, and we can help you find a specialist in your area who understands psoriatic arthritis. There is no definitive test for psoriatic arthritis. The diagnosis is made mostly by your doctor’s observations and by a process of elimination. Your doctor will need your medical history, particularly your history with psoriasis, and may perform a physical examination, blood tests, MRIs and X-rays of the joints that have symptoms to diagnose psoriatic arthritis.
The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are similar to those of three other arthritic diseases: rheumatoid arthritis, gout and reactive arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis generally involves joints symmetrically distributed on both sides of the body, and it may produce bumps under the skin that are not present in psoriatic arthritis. However, some forms of psoriatic arthritis look very similar. However, having psoriasis on the skin and nail changes are usually indicators of psoriatic arthritis. To rule out rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may test for a certain antibody, called a rheumatoid factor, that is normally present in rheumatoid arthritis.
The rheumatoid factor is not usually found in the blood of psoriatic arthritis patients. A person can have rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, but that is rare. Likewise, it is possible to have gout along with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. If you have an excruciatingly painful attack in a joint, particularly in the big toe, you may want to have a test for gout. Your health care provider will want to examine fluid drawn from the affected joint for elevated serum uric acid levels, which would indicate gout. However, people with psoriatic arthritis can have elevated serum uric acid levels, too, and not have gout. Taking a low-dose aspirin or increased skin cell turnover also can cause high serum uric acid levels.