You may be wondering how a disease on your skin can affect your joints, too. But, as you may have learned in Underneath the Skin, what you see as psoriasis on the outside starts as inflammation on the inside. This same inflammation can affect your joints as psoriatic arthritis.Back to top ^
PsA can affect any joint in the body. The most common symptoms can include:
Swollen fingers and toes
Tender, painful, or swollen joints
Red scaly skin patches known as plaques
Reduced range of motion of the joints
Lower back, upper back, and neck pain
Changes to nails, such as pitting or separation from the nail bed
If you show symptoms of PsA, your doctor will want to know which parts of the body are affected and the severity of your symptoms. This information helps identify which of the 5 types of PsA you may have.
Affects the same joints on both sides of the body, for instance, the right and left knees, right and left wrists, etc. Can resemble rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Can occur in any joint, but not necessarily the same joints on both sides of the body. Fingers and toes can become enlarged and "sausage-like."
Involves the joints of the fingers and toes closest to the nails. Changes in the nail are common. Is similar to, and sometimes confused with, osteoarthritis.
Refers to inflammation of the spinal column. Only about 5% of people with PsA have spondylitis as their main symptom. But a larger number of people with PsA will have similar symptoms—stiffness in the neck, lower back, pelvic area, or spinal vertebrae.
A severe, deforming, and destructive type of PsA that usually affects the small joints of the hands and feet. Can also cause neck and lower-back pain. Fewer than 5% of PsA patients have this type.
The inflammation associated with PsA is caused by an abnormal response of your body's immune system, which may result in red flaky skin patches known as plaques, as well as joint pain and swelling.
Genetic and environmental factors also come into play. People with PsA often have a family member with psoriasis or arthritis. And among people who are susceptible, an infection may activate the immune system, triggering the development of psoriatic arthritis.Back to top ^
The joint inflammation caused by psoriatic arthritis can result in joint damage that can get worse over time, so early diagnosis is important.
It’s important to work with a doctor who specializes in treating psoriatic arthritis—a rheumatologist. Rheumatologists specialize in diseases of the joints, tissue, and bones, and are experts on both the diagnosis and the management of PsA.Back to top ^