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There are 5 types of psoriatic arthritis. The different types vary not only according to which parts of the body are affected, but also the extent and severity of the inflammation. Click on the images below for enlarged pictures of psoriatic arthritis.
Symmetric arthritis usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body in multiple symmetric pairs (left and right knees, left and right wrists, etc). Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, it’s generally milder, although it can be disabling.
Asymmetric arthritis can affect any joint, such as the knee, hip, ankle, or wrist, but usually not the same joints on both sides of the body. Affected joints may be warm, tender, and red, and enlarged "sausage-like" digits may occur on the hands and feet. While generally mild, some people with asymmetric arthritis may develop disabling symptoms.
This type of psoriatic arthritis accounts for 5% and is often confused with osteoarthritis. It involves the distal joints of the fingers and toes (the joint closest to the nail). Nail changes are common.
Spondylitis is inflammation of the spinal column. About 5% of psoriatic arthritis patients have spondylitis as the predominant symptom, but larger number of patients have stiffness of the neck, lower back, pelvic area, or spinal vertebrae, making motion painful and difficult. Hands, arms, hips, legs, and feet can also be affected.
Fewer than 5% of psoriatic arthritis patients are affected by arthritis mutilans, a severe, deforming, and destructive form of the disease. While it primarily affects the small joints of the hands and feet, neck and lower back pain are frequently associated with it as well.
Learn more about psoriatic arthritis from Refusing to Hide. This useful resource also includes tips, helpful insights, and simple strategies for improving your relationship with your dermatologist and living well with psoriasis.
Both genetic and environmental factors are associated with the development of PsA, and much like psoriasis, the immune system plays an important role.