6 Facts About Psoriatic Arthritis
Jerry Kennard | March 18, 2014
Reviewed by Diane M. Horowitz, MD on Dec 10, 2017
15 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis often develops in people who also have psoriasis, which is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to go into overdrive and attack the skin. In people with psoriatic arthritis, the immune system also attacks the joints and causes inflammation.
Psoriatic arthritis may be hereditary
Though it is not known exactly what causes psoriatic arthritis, about 40 percent of people with the condition have a family member with psoriasis or arthritis, which suggests that heredity may play a role.
Symptoms flare and subside
Like the symptoms of psoriasis, the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis flare and subside, and vary from person to person. Inflammation and joint involvement can even change locations in a person over time.
One or multiple joints may be affected
Psoriatic arthritis may affect only one joint, a few joints or many joints in the body. Fingers and toes can become swollen, which is called dactylitis. Fingernails and toenails may also be affected.
Tender spots in the ligaments and tendons are common
This tenderness is called enthesitis, and is a hallmark feature of psoriatic arthritis. Tender spots where tendons and ligaments join the bone often occur on the heel and sole of the foot, and around the elbows.
Psoriatic arthritis can affect the spine
This is called spondylitis, and causes pain the back or neck, and makes it difficult to bend. It can also affect the joints of the pelvis.
Early diagnosis and treatment is essential
Research has found that long-term inflammation from psoriatic arthritis can lead to joint damage. Early and accurate diagnosis is important to stop the inflammation, and treatments are very effective for most people.