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Diagnosing Psoriatic Arthritis

Diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis

By SkinCare Network

Psoriatic arthritis is a relatively rare, but potentially debilitating condition that can cause pain, stiffness, and severely limit the movement of the affected joints. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to limit extensive and permanent joint damage.

What is psoriatic arthritis?

  • Psoriatic arthritis is a relatively uncommon type of inflammatory arthritis that affects the joints such as the fingers and toes.
  • 85% to 90% of patients with psoriatic arthritis have pre-existing psoriasis present on the skin.
  • Severity can vary widely from individual to individual, but it can have serious consequences for a patient's quality of life, and should be treated immediately.

Why is early diagnosis important?

  • Psoriatic arthritis can be painful and debilitating, having a significant impact on a patient's quality of life. Treatment can minimize discomfort and pain.
  • The faster the condition is accurately diagnosed, the better it is for treatment. If left without treatment, joints can become permanently damaged.
  • Early treatment can minimize damage to the joints and improve the patient's quality of life.

What are the challenges to diagnosis?

  • Psoriatic arthritis is a relatively uncommon condition in the general public.
  • Although psoriatic arthritis is a relatively well known condition among those who suffer from psoriasis, psoriasis itself only affects 2 to 4% of the population. This makes psoriatic arthritis a relatively uncommon condition. Rheumatic arthritis, which shares similar symptoms with psoriatic arthritis, is far more common.
  • Symptoms such as pain and stiffness can be non-specific; these symptoms, especially if mild, can be seen in many other conditions.
  • Reaching the correct diagnosis can take longer than most conditions when the arthritis occurs before the psoriasis. This happens in about 10% to 15% of cases of psoriatic arthritis.

If I have psoriasis, will I eventually get psoriatic arthritis?

  • No, psoriatic arthritis affects less than 1 in 3 people with psoriasis.
  • Psoriasis severity is not necessarily a predicting factor for psoriatic arthritis.
  • Psoriatic arthritis can occur before psoriasis lesions occur in 10 to 15% of cases.

What are some of the common signs that you may have psoriatic arthritis?

  • Psoriasis present on the skin.
  • Arthritic pain and stiffness at the joints.
  • Change in the nails such as pitting or nail bed separation.
  • Swelling in the fingers and toes, often called sausage fingers.
  • Tendinitis in the achilles tendon.
  • Physical exhaustion which does not go away with rest.
  • Symptoms that are worse after inactivity (sleeping), and improve with movement

What should I do if I show symptoms of psoriatic arthritis?

  • Accurate diagnosis can take time and can sometimes require several tests to confirm. Be patient through this process.
  • Any form of arthritis is a serious condition that has the potential to cause serious and permanent damage. Prolonged or severe pain warrants a visit to the doctor whether you have psoriasis or not.
  • Nearly half of all patients with psoriatic arthritis have a family history of either psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Inform your doctor about family history, as it can help with accurate diagnosis.

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