Psoriatic Arthritis

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Catherine Burt Driver, MD
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

View Psoriatic Arthritis Slideshow Pictures
Learn about psoriatic arthritis signs and symptoms.

Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms and Signs

Psoriatic arthritis symptoms and signs include

  • joint aches and stiffness,
  • joint swelling,
  • joint warmth and redness,
  • joint pain and tenderness,
  • loss of range of motion of the affected joints.

If the spine is affected, there can be pain and stiffness in the low back, buttocks, neck, and upper back. Tendons can also become inflamed, and if Achilles tendinitis is present, other symptoms can include limping, pain with walking, and pain with climbing stairs.

Quick GuidePsoriatic Arthritis Pictures Slideshow: Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Psoriatic Arthritis Pictures Slideshow: Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Psoriatic arthritis facts

  • Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease characterized by a form of inflammation of the skin (psoriasis) and joints (inflammatory arthritis).
  • Some 15%-25% of people with psoriasis also develop inflammation of joints (psoriatic arthritis).
  • The first appearance of the skin disease (psoriasis) can be separated from the onset of joint disease (arthritis) by years.
  • Psoriatic arthritis symptoms and signs include
  • Psoriatic arthritis belongs to a group of arthritis conditions that can cause inflammation of the spine (spondyloarthropathies).
  • Patients with psoriatic arthritis can develop inflammation of tendons, cartilage, eyes, lung lining, and, rarely, the aorta.
  • The arthritis of psoriatic arthritis is treated independently of the psoriasis, with exercise, ice applications, medications, and surgery.

What is psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease characterized by a form of inflammation of the skin (psoriasis) and joints (inflammatory arthritis). Psoriasis is a common skin condition affecting 2% of the Caucasian population in the United States. It features patchy, raised, red areas of skin inflammation with scaling. Psoriasis often affects the tips of the elbows and knees, the scalp and ears, the navel, and around the genital areas or anus. Approximately 15%-25% of patients who have psoriasis also develop an associated inflammation of their joints. Patients who have inflammatory arthritis and psoriasis are diagnosed as having psoriatic arthritis.

The onset of psoriatic arthritis generally occurs in the fourth and fifth decades of life. Males and females are affected equally. The skin disease (psoriasis) and the joint disease (arthritis) often appear separately. In fact, the skin disease precedes the arthritis in nearly 80% of patients. However, the arthritis may precede the psoriasis in up to 15% of patients. In some patients, the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis can be difficult if the arthritis precedes psoriasis by many years. In fact, some patients have had arthritis for over 20 years before psoriasis eventually appears! Conversely, patients can have psoriasis for over 20 years prior to the development of arthritis, leading to the ultimate diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis is a systemic rheumatic disease that also can cause inflammation in body tissues away from the joints other than the skin, such as in the eyes, heart, lungs, and kidneys. Psoriatic arthritis shares many features with several other arthritic conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, and arthritis associated with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. All of these conditions can cause inflammation in the spine and other joints, and the eyes, skin, mouth, and various organs. In view of their similarities and tendency to cause inflammation of the spine, these conditions are collectively referred to as "spondyloarthropathies."

Picture of the inflammation of spondyloarthropathy
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/4/2016

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