10 Things You Should Know About Psoriatic Arthritis

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Psoriatic arthritis(PsA) is a form of arthritis that affects people with psoriasis. PsA causes inflammation, stiffness, swelling and pain in your joints. About 30 percent of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis.

The following are 10 things you should know about this disease:** Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint in the body.** While it usually affects large joints in the legs, joints in your fingers, those in your back and sacroiliac joints, it can affect any joint in your body.

There are five types of psoriatic arthritis. The symptoms of each are different:

  • Symmetric - affects the same joints on both sides of the body

  • Asymmetric - does not affect the same joints on either side of the body. Any joint can be affected. Joints can be red, warm, swollen and painful. About 80 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis have this type.

  • Distal interphalangeal predominant - affects the distal joints of the fingers and toes, which is the joint closest to the nail. There can be nail changes. It is considered the classic type although only about 5 to 10 percent of people with PsA have these symptoms.

  • Spondylitis - affects primarily the spine.

  • Arthritis mutilans - primarily affects the joints in the hands and feet and often causes joint deformity. This is the rarest form of PsA.

While the exact causes of psoriatic arthritis are not understood, there seems to be a genetic connection. About 40 percent of people with PsA have an immediate relative (parent or sibling) who also has PsA.

Not everyone who has psoriasis develops psoriatic arthritis. Anywhere between 6 percent and 42 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis according to the Annals of Rheumatic Disease. Those who get psoriasis lesions on their fingernails or toenails have a higher chance of developing psoriatic arthritis.

Most people with psoriatic arthritis had skin symptoms before developing PsA. About 85 percent of those with PsA developed skin symptoms of psoriasis before the onset of PsA.

Symptoms of PsA may develop slowly or can appear suddenly. For some people, symptoms start out mild and slowly worsen over time. For others, symptoms begin as sudden and severe pain.

Men and women are at equal risk of developing PsA. Women have a higher risk of developing many autoimmune diseases, however, for psoriatic arthritis, the risk is equal.

PsA usually appears between the ages of 30 and 55. While it is most common to appear between these ages, it is sometimes diagnosed in childhood.

There is no lab test to diagnose psoriatic arthritis. Your doctor may discuss your symptoms, examine your joints, do blood tests, take x-rays and rule out other types of arthritis before giving a diagnosis of PsA.

PsA can cause permanent joint damage. Early diagnosis and treatment is important. Treatments can help relieve pain and make you more comfortable but they can can also help prevent further damage to your joints. A rheumatologist is the best type of doctor to see if you have been diagnosed or wonder if you have psoriatic arthritis.

For more information on psoriatic arthritis:

Psoriatic arthritis: Diagnosis and Treatments

Passion, Perseverance and Psoriatic Arthritis: A Discussion with Byron Janis

The Basics of Psoriatic Arthritis: An Interview with Dr. Gladman

Joint Pain? How to Know if You Have Psoriatic Arthritis


“About Psoriatic Arthritis,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, National Psoriasis Foundation

“Psoriatic Arthritis,” Updated 2013, September, Paul Emery MD and Zoe Ash, MD, American College of Rheumatology

“What is Psoriatic Arthritis?” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Arthritis Foundation

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.