What Is Psoriatic Arthritis ?

Psoriatic arthritis, a chronic disease, is a form of inflammatory arthritis that affects between 10% and 30% of patients who have psoriasis (National Psoriasis Foundation, USA). The majority of patients with psoriatic arthritis developed the skin conditions - psoriasis - first, and were later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. However, in about 20% of cases arthritis symptoms may emerge beforehand. If the arthritis symptoms emerge many years before the skin symptoms an accurate diagnosis may be difficult.

Some patients may just have psoriasis symptoms for a couple of decades before the development of arthritis.

People with psoriatic arthritis have inflammation of the skin (psoriasis) and joints (arthritis).

Psoriatic arthritis may emerge at any time, but it most commonly appears between the ages of 30 and 50 years. The risk of developing the condition is slightly higher for males than females.

Psoriatic arthritis is a systemic disease - it can affect any part of the body. Inflammation of body tissues, apart from the joints or skin are possible, including the eyes, heart, kidneys and lungs.

There is no current cure for psoriatic arthritis. Treatment is aimed at controlling symptoms and preventing damage to the joints.

Psoriatic arthritis is the concurrence of psoriasis and polyarthritis, resembling rheumatoid arthritis but thought to be a specific disease entity, seronegative for rheumatoid factor and often involving the digits

What are the signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis ?

A symptom is something the patient feels and reports, while a sign is something other people, such as the doctor detect. For example, pain may be a symptom while a rash may be a sign.

Psoriatic arthritis, like psoriasis, is a progressive, chronic condition, in other words, it is long-term and gradually gets worse. Patients may have periods when symptoms get better or go away altogether (remission), while on other occasions symptoms worsen. Typically, both joint and skin symptoms come and go at the same time.

The most common signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include :

  • The affected joints are painful
  • The affected joints are swollen (inflamed)
  • When touched, the affected joints feel warm
  • Psoriasis symptoms (click here to see Psoriasis Symptoms section)