Psoriatic arthritis can occur in people who have psoriasis (scaly red and white skin patches). It affects the joints and areas where tissues attach to bone.
The joints most often affected are:
- The outer joints of the fingers or toes.
- Lower back.
Who gets it?
Anyone with psoriasis (scaly red and white skin patches) can have psoriatic arthritis.
It is more common in Caucasians than African Americans or Asian Americans. The disease typically begins between the ages of 30 and 50, but can begin in childhood.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include:
- Joint pain and swelling that may come and go. Joints may also be red and warm.
- Tenderness in the heel and bottom of the foot.
- Pain and stiffness in the neck and lower back.
- Joint stiffness, especially in the morning.
- Painful, sausage-like swelling of the fingers and/or toes.
- Thickness and reddening of the skin with flaky, silver white patches called scales.
- Pitting of the nails or separation from the nail bed.
- Pink eye or other eye infections.
What causes it?
No one knows what causes psoriatic arthritis. Researchers believe that both genes and environment are involved.
Is there a test?
If you have psoriasis and start to develop joint pain, it’s important to see your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of psoriatic arthritis can help prevent joint damage.
Although there is no test for psoriatic arthritis, your doctor may do the following to diagnosis you with the condition:
- Ask you about your medical and family history.
- Give you a physical exam.
- Take samples of blood or joint fluid for a laboratory test.
- Take x-rays.
How is it treated?
Psoriatic arthritis is treated by medications. The type of medication depends on how severe the disease is.
Who treats it?
Doctors who diagnose and treat psoriatic arthritis include:
- A general practitioner, such as your family doctor.
- A rheumatologist, who treats arthritis and other diseases of the bones, joints, and muscles.