Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory disease that can cause irreversible joint damage and affect other parts of your body, so it’s important to discuss your symptoms with your rheumatologist. The sooner psoriatic arthritis is
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 joint 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.
“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.
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 joint pain, swelling, and tenderness in one or more joints, as well as stiffness—particularly in the morning or after a period of rest.
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% of people with PsA experience skin problems associated with psoriasis before having psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
Difficulty moving joints and limbs as freely as before is a sign of PsA.
In PsA, joints tend to be stiff and inflexible either first thing in the morning or after a period of rest.
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% 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 individually.
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.
Pain in the foot could be enthesitis, a condition in which areas where tendons and ligaments join onto bones become tender and inflamed. This frequently happens at the heel (Achilles tendinitis) or at the bottom of the foot (plantar fasciitis).
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
—making even your regular, daily activities difficult. 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.
You may know that mild, regular exercise can help you stay flexible and alleviate stiffness. However, if you’ve experienced any of the symptoms above and/or are
like getting out of bed, cutting your own food, combing your hair, brushing your teeth, or not being able to do activities you used to do because of your joint pain, tell your doctor.
Watch This 15-Second Video – Then Take the PsA Symptom Quiz
Find out if your skin and joint symptoms could have something in common: psoriatic arthritis.
Other conditions that are associated with psoriatic arthritis
In addition to psoriasis, some people with PsA may have diseases that have been shown to be associated with PsA, including:
Eye disease (uveitis—an inflammatory condition)
IBD (inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
If any of these symptoms seem familiar, talk to your doctor.