Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms

Joint Pain, Swelling, and Other Symptoms

The classic psoriatic arthritis symptoms—joint pain, swelling, and tenderness—make this condition similar to other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

As with other kinds of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis can affect just about any joint in the body, (although the joints at the ends of the fingers or toes are the most common). However, psoriatic arthritis is typically a milder form of arthritis, and it usually starts off as psoriasis.

About 1 in 20 people with psoriasis go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.1

Psoriasis is a skin rash that causes that area of the skin to become thick, red, irritated, and flaky. These patches of skin can turn a silver and/or white color.

Psoriatic arthritis typically appears about 10 years after you develop psoriasis, which can occur at any age, but most people are diagnosed with psoriasis between 15 and 35 years old.2

But how do you know if you’ve developed psoriatic arthritis? There are some key psoriatic arthritis symptoms to look for.

Common Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms

  • Back pain
  • Changes to your nails (eg, the nails can begin to separate from the nail bed)
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Eye pain and eye redness
  • Fatigue
  • Painful, swollen joints
  • Sausage-like swelling of the fingers or toes (although this is more common during the advanced stages)
  • Stiffness (especially in the morning)
  • Tenderness at the points where muscles and/or ligaments connect to bones, especially the heel and bottom of the foot

There are 5 types of psoriatic arthritis, and each of those types comes with its own set of symptoms.

5 Types of Psoriatic Arthritis and Their Symptoms

  • Symmetric arthritis: Symmetric arthritis occurs in the same joints on both sides of the body. Similar to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), symmetric arthritis symptoms include joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness. However, symmetric arthritis symptoms are usually milder than RA symptoms.
  • Asymmetric arthritis: With asymmetric arthritis, many joints can be affected, including the wrist, hip, knee, and ankle, but it doesn’t occur in the same joints on both sides of the body.


    Symptoms include joint pain that comes and goes, and joints may become warm, tender, and/or red. Some people also develop dactylitis—a condition that causes pain and swelling of the fingers and/or toes. Dactylitis is sometimes referred to as “sausage digit” because when the fingers or toes become inflamed, they can resemble a sausage.

  • Distal interphalangeal predominant (DIP): This type of psoriatic arthritis is pretty rare and is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis (OA). But what distinguishes distal interphalangeal predominant from OA is that it usually involves the finger and/or toe joints closest to the fingernail and/or toenail. (“Distal” means “near” and “phalanges” are fingers and toes, so “interphalangeal” means “between fingers/toes”).


    Another clue that it’s DIP instead of OA is that with DIP, nail changes can be significant. It’s common to have discoloration, crumbling, or detachment of the nails.

  • Spondylitis: Spondylitis—also known as ankylosing spondylitis—is inflammation in the spinal column. Common symptoms are inflammation, reduced flexibility, and stiffness in the neck and low back, which can make moving or bending painful and very difficult to do.
  • Arthritis mutilans: This type of psoriatic arthritis is a severe and often destructive form of the condition. It mostly affects the hands and feet, but fortunately, it’s rare.

If you have any of the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, call your doctor immediately. He or she will want to do a physical exam and run some tests to rule out other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Updated on: 11/17/15
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Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosis