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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Psoriatic Arthritis
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Psoriatic arthritis (say "sor-ee-AT-ik ar-THRY-tus") is a type of arthritis that sometimes occurs in people who have a skin problem called psoriasis. The arthritis causes joints to become swollen, tender, and painful.
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease. That means the body's own defense (immune) system attacks the joints. An infection or a serious joint injury may trigger the arthritis in people who have psoriasis.
Psoriatic arthritis causes swelling, stiffness, and pain in your joints, such as in the fingers and toes. Other joints can also be affected. Some people may have pain in the back of the heel.
Some people may have problems with their fingernails and toenails. The nails may form pits, change color, and separate from the nail bed.
Symptoms may be mild or severe. Severe arthritis can affect many joints and make it hard to do daily tasks.
Joint symptoms may occur before, at the same time, or after you get skin symptoms from psoriasis. Joint and skin symptoms may come and go over time. The joint symptoms usually improve after skin symptoms improve.
There is no specific test to diagnose psoriatic arthritis. Your doctor may do a physical exam to look for swelling in your joints and changes in your skin and nails. You may also have imaging tests, such as X-rays, and blood tests.
Treatment can help relieve symptoms and prevent damage to your joints. Treatment includes medicines and physical and occupational therapy.
Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), for mild pain. If psoriasis symptoms get worse after you take these medicines, call your doctor right away. For severe arthritis, stronger drugs may be used to help reduce pain and prevent joint damage. These include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (called DMARDs), biologics, and a drug known as a PDE4 inhibitor. Steroid injections or pills may also be given to relieve joint pain.
A physical therapist may help you move and stay active, build your strength, learn to manage daily tasks, and reduce pain.
Some people with severe arthritis may need surgery to replace or repair damaged joints.
You can do things at home to help protect your joints and ease pain. Try these tips:
Keeping an active lifestyle can also help you manage arthritis. Talk to your doctor about exercises that may be safe and helpful for you. These may include:
Psoriatic arthritis often improves when the skin symptoms of psoriasis get better. So make sure to follow your treatment plan for psoriasis.
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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