Up to a third of people with psoriasis also get psoriatic arthritis. It usually affects people between the ages of 30 and 50, although you can get it at any age. It causes inflammation, mainly in your joints. And it can affect other parts of your body, too.
Some symptoms can be similar to rheumatoid arthritis, so your doctor may want to do tests to confirm the diagnosis.
An accurate and early diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis will help you avoid the damage and deformity it can cause.
Your doctor will make a decision based on:
A physical exam
Your medical history and your family's
No single thing will diagnose psoriatic arthritis, but blood tests, imaging, and other tests can help your doctor. He may want to give you certain tests that check for rheumatoid arthritis, because it can look a lot like psoriatic arthritis.
Often you'll see swelling in your knees, ankles, feet and hands. Usually, a few joints are inflamed at a time. They get painful and puffy, and sometimes hot and red. When your fingers or toes are affected, they might take on a sausage shape.
Stiff joints are common, too. They're typically worse early in the morning.
Psoriatic arthritis might affect pairs of joints on both sides of your body, like both of your knees, ankles, hips, and elbows.
Pain and stiffness in your neck, upper back, low back, and buttocks could be from inflammation in the joints of your spine and hip bones.
A rare and very destructive form of arthritis rapidly damages joints at the ends of fingers and toes. They could stop working, which means you wouldn't be able to keep your balance when standing and walk well, or you'd have trouble using your hands.
You could also get inflammation where a muscle connects to a bone, such as the Achilles tendon behind your heel. It would hurt to walk and climb stairs.
Fingernails and Toenails
Many people with psoriatic arthritis see tiny dents, called pitting, and ridges in their nails.
Inflammation in the colored part of your eye, the iris, can cause pain that gets worse in bright light.
You'll probably need to see an eye doctor for treatment.
Chest, Lungs, and Heart
Although rare, chest pain and shortness of breath can be symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. These might happen when the chest wall and the cartilage that links your ribs to your breastbone get inflamed. Even more rarely, your lungs or your aorta (the large blood vessel that leaves your heart) could be affected.
When Should I See a Doctor?
If you have psoriasis and your joints hurt, let your doctor know.
People without psoriasis can get psoriatic arthritis, too. You should call your doctor if you have: