Psoriatic Arthritis Overview
Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms and Causes
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that can affect almost any joint in your body. Fortunately, treatments you and your doctor apply will usually be effective. Psoriatic arthritis is most common among adults 30 to 50 years of age, and it affects men and women equally.1
Genes are probably a major cause of psoriatic arthritis, so you are more likely to get it if there are others in your family with psoriatic arthritis. Doctors and scientists also suspect psoriatic arthritis comes from a defensive response your immune system creates.
Types of Psoriatic Arthritis
The 5 types of psoriatic arthritis are generally classified by location. They include:
- asymmetric: occurring in any joint in your body
- symmetric: appearing in matching joints on both sides of your body
- spondylitis: developing in your neck and back joints
- distal interphalangeal predominant (DIP): existing in the finger and toe joints closest to your fingernails
- arthritis mutilans: surfacing as severe arthritis mostly in the hands and feet
How Psoriatic Arthritis Relates to Psoriasis of the Skin
Most people experience psoriasis, a skin rash, for months or years prior to developing arthritic symptoms in joints. However, only about 15% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis.1
Psoriasis occurs on the skin as thick patches of flaky scales that are silver-white in color. They are often surrounded by a red border. Skin doctors believe that these patches and scales come from an immune system response that causes your skin to regenerate itself every 3 to 4 days, instead of the regular 28 day regeneration cycle.
There are numerous treatments for psoriasis, and it is generally a very manageable health condition. Doctors and scientists do not know if treating the skin condition psoriasis reduces your chances of developing psoriatic arthritis in your joints.
The Psoriatic Arthritis Cycle
Most people will only experience psoriatic arthritis in a few joints. In comparison to other forms of arthritis (such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis), the pain, swelling, and inflammation of psoriatic arthritis are generally milder.
While psoriatic arthritis is a life-long condition, there are numerous effective treatments that usually minimize its impact. Your primary care doctor or provider can usually treat psoriatic arthritis effectively and minimize joint discomfort.
If you develop severe psoriatic arthritis in many joints, there are aggressive treatments that block the disease and modify proteins that cause inflammation. Your primary care doctor or provider may also decide to send you to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in arthritis.