10 Ways Psoriatic Arthritis Can Affect Your Body
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. | Dec 28, 2017
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis – a condition that features patches of abnormal skin. Both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are chronic diseases that get worse over time, but there can be periods of remission when the symptoms get better. When psoriatic arthritis symptoms become worse, your body may experience the following:
Sore and swollen fingers and toes
Active psoriatic arthritis frequently involves the synovial membrane (connective tissue) of finger and toe joints and/or tendons. Many people with psoriatic arthritis also have a sausage-like swelling along the entire length of their fingers and toes. This symptom helps differentiate psoriatic arthritis from rheumatoid arthritis, in which swelling is usually in a single joint.
Decreased lung function
Like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis produces widespread inflammation throughout the body and can cause harm to the lungs. While this will not happen to everyone with the disease, a report in the British Journal of Dermatology showed that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was more likely to occur in patients with psoriasis compared to patients without.
Reduced range of motion
The inflammation that can cause joint stiffness can also reduce your range of motion. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, physical activity and moderate exercise may improve your flexibility.
People living with psoriatic arthritis often develop tenderness or pain where tendons and ligaments attach to bones. This commonly occurs at the heel (Achilles tendinitis) or at the bottom of the foot (plantar fasciitis).
Lower back pain
The American College of Rheumatology conducted a study of back pain of those with psoriasis compared to individuals without psoriasis. They found there was a higher prevalence of lower back pain associated with a prior diagnosis of psoriasis. Almost 40 percent of those in the study with psoriasis had general back pain compared to only 27 percent who did not have psoriasis. The number of participants with psoriasis and low-back pain was almost double the number of those without psoriasis.
Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can lead to the eye inflammation known as uveitis. This term refers to several different diseases related to inflammation of the eye. This disorder affects approximately one in 1,000 Americans, or 0.1 percent. For people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, the risk is even higher – about 7 percent. It is suspected that all three diseases share a common genetic factor.
People with psoriatic arthritis are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared with people who do not have psoriatic arthritis according to a study published in Arthritis Care and Research. In a review of studies involving 33,000 people, those with psoriatic arthritis were 43 percent more likely to have or to develop heart disease compared to the general population.
More fatigue than usual could mean increased inflammatory disease activity. It could also be related to medications that are sometimes prescribed for psoriatic arthritis. A day of increased fatigue may just be an indication that you need to slow down and rest, but if the fatigue is frequent, you should let your rheumatologist know.
Psoriatic arthritis can change the appearance of your fingernails and toenails as it progresses. For example, the nail can separate from the nail bed or become pitted with fungal infections according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Certain symptoms of psoriatic arthritis remain beneath the surface. According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 20 percent of people living with the chronic pain and fatigue of psoriatic arthritis also live with depression. Learn how to recognize depression in yourself and how to help others who may be in need.