Psoriatic Arthritis

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic Arthritis is a type of arthritis that produces swelling in the joints of people who have skin psoriasis.

Skin psoriasis causes red, scaly patches on your scalp, elbows and knees. About 15 to 30 percent of people who have skin psoriasis eventually develop psoriatic arthritis.

Most psoriatic arthritis sufferers have a relative with the disease, so it’s likely to be hereditary. In some people with this genetic tendency, an infection or injury can trigger the arthritis to begin.

Physical trauma or something in the environment — such as a viral or bacterial infection — may trigger psoriatic arthritis in people with an inherited tendency.

What are the Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis?

You are most likely to have joint pain, swelling and stiffness if you develop psoriatic arthritis; this can affect any joint in your body. The disease is very similar to rheumatoid arthritis.

Many people with psoriatic arthritis experience swelling in their fingers and toes. You may also have pain in your feet, particularly where ligaments and tendons attach to the bones in your heel or sole. Lower back pain is also common.

How is Psoriatic Arthritis Treated?

Because arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system overreacts to an environmental trigger, medications that can suppress the immune system can help reduce symptoms. However, they carry side effects, such as an increased chance of getting infections and other illnesses. Steroid injections can also help to reduce pain and inflammation.

For mild cases, some medical professionals treat with anti-inflammatory pain medication and an antirheumatic drug that can squelch the continued progress of the arthritis. While arthritis can go into remission, this type is usually a chronic condition and will flare up from time to time.

More severe cases could require surgery to replace the affected joints.

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Last Reviewed:
October 10, 2016
Last Updated:
August 25, 2017