Psoriatic arthritis symptoms
Psoriatic arthritis can be a serious disease and can damage joints and other body systems, so it's important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. The sooner psoriatic arthritis is diagnosed, the sooner it can be managed appropriately.
Psoriatic arthritis symptoms include skin symptoms like red, scaly skin patches known as plaque psoriasis, as well as joint symptoms like pain and swelling. Additionally, psoriatic arthritis symptoms usually flare and then diminish, vary from person to person, and can change locations in the same person over time.
Common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis may include:
Swollen fingers and toes
“Sausage-like” swelling along the entire length of fingers and toes—also called dactylitis—is often a telltale sign of psoriatic arthritis, as opposed to rheumatoid arthritis, in which the swelling is usually confined to a joint. In PsA, it is possible to have swelling in your hands and feet before developing joint symptoms.
Tender, painful, or swollen joints
Psoriatic arthritis typically affects the ankles, knees, fingers, toes, and lower back—and can cause joint damage if not treated appropriately. People with PsA may experience pain, throbbing, swelling and tenderness in one or more joints, as well as stiffness—particularly in the morning or after a period of rest. Exercise can help keep joints flexible and muscles strong.
Red, scaly skin patches
The skin symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include a rash, thick, red skin, or flaky, silver-white scaly patches, as in plaque psoriasis. The skin may itch and be painful. Up to 85 percent of people with PsA experience skin problems associated with psoriasis before having psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
Reduced range of motion
Stiffness and pain in the joints and swelling and tenderness in tendons can cause reduced range of motion. Exercising regularly can help you stay flexible.
In PsA, joints tend to be stiff and inflexible either first thing in the morning or after a period of rest, making it difficult to move joints on either or both sides of your body. Mild exercise can help alleviate stiffness and loosen up your joints.
Back and neck pain
Some people may develop back pain as a result of psoriatic arthritis, including a condition called spondylitis. Spondylitis causes inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae of your spine and in the joints between your spine and pelvis (sacroiliitis).
Fatigue from PsA can be overwhelming, and up to 50 percent of people with PsA have moderate to severe fatigue. There is usually more than one cause, including the effect of the proteins released that cause PsA inflammation, anemia, obesity, diabetes, depression, and poor sleep. Managing fatigue requires addressing each possible cause separately.
Changes to nails
When you have psoriatic arthritis, your fingernails as well as toenails may become pitted (when depressions form) or look as if they are infected with a fungus. Additionally, your nails can completely separate from the nail bed.
Foot, ankle, and heel pain
Pain in the foot could be enthesitis, a condition in which areas where tendons and ligaments join onto bones become tender. At the heel (Achilles tendinitis), this occurs when lower calf muscles that connect to your heel bone become inflamed; at the bottom of the foot (plantar fasciitis), this occurs when the tendon that connects your heel to your toes becomes inflamed.
Some people with psoriatic arthritis have pain in their eyes and other eye problems, such as blurred and/or disturbed vision and reddened eyes. These eye symptoms may be caused by conjunctivitis or uveitis.
The impact of psoriatic arthritis symptoms
The pain and discomfort of red, scaly skin patches as well as the joint pain, swelling, and stiffness of psoriatic arthritis can have a negative impact on your daily life—making even your regular, daily activities difficult. PsA can make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. Upon waking up in the morning, some patients experience stiffness that can last more than 30 minutes. Additionally, if the joints of the feet, ankles, or knees are affected, routine tasks like walking or getting out of a chair can be painful.
If you've experienced any of the symptoms above and/or are having trouble doing things like getting out of bed, cutting your own food, combing your hair, brushing your teeth or buttoning your clothes, tell your doctor.
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