Psoriatic arthritis causes joint inflammation affecting people who have the skin condition psoriasis, which causes red, itchy patches of skin.
Skin rashes and severe joint pain aren’t symptoms that seem like they have much to do with each other. However, they are the two of the most common indications of psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune condition that affects people who also have psoriasis. Read on to find out everything you need to know about this type of arthritis.
What Is Psoriatic Arthritis?
The term “arthritis” on its own does not refer to a specific condition but is a description including all types of joint diseases and pain. Many different types of arthritis exist, with causes that range from the natural aging process to an infection that inflames the joints. Psoriatic arthritis affects people who have the skin condition psoriasis, which causes red, itchy patches of skin.
“It can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other forms of arthritis,” Said Dr. JB Kirby, a doctoral-prepared nurse practitioner in Columbus, Ohio. “About 1/3 of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis.”
In most cases, psoriatic arthritis develops after psoriasis does, but not always, and not everyone with psoriasis will come to have psoriatic arthritis. No cure exists for this type of arthritis, but with treatment, joint inflammation and pain can be managed.
Types of Psoriatic Arthritis
There are five types of psoriatic arthritis, categorizing the condition by how its symptoms present.
Asymmetric Arthritis: Asymmetric psoriatic arthritis is the most common form of this condition. It can affect any joints in the body and causes swelling and tenderness in those areas, as well as swelling in the fingers and toes that may give them a sausage-like appearance. Asymmetric psoriatic arthritis tends to be but is not always a milder form of psoriatic arthritis than the others.
Symmetric Arthritis: This type of psoriatic arthritis affects the same joints on both sides of your body, such as your wrists, knees, or elbows. Symmetric psoriatic arthritis can often resemble rheumatoid arthritis.
Distal Interphalangeal Predominant: This type of arthritis affects the distal joints, which are the ones closest to your fingernails and toenails. Distal interphalangeal predominant psoriatic arthritis can also affect the appearance of your nails, causing ridges and yellowing.
Spondylitis: A relatively uncommon type of psoriatic arthritis, affecting only about 5% of people with psoriatic arthritis, spondylitis causes inflammation in the spinal column and pain in the neck and lower back. Spondylitis can make movement difficult or painful, and it may result in a need for surgery if discs in the spinal column fuse together.
Arthritis Mutilans: Arthritis mutilans is the least common type of psoriatic arthritis. It occurs when bones, usually in the hands and feet but also sometimes in the neck and back, break down. The physical changes caused by arthritis mutilans are permanent.