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Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that often occurs with psoriasis of the skin.
Arthritis - psoriatic
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Psoriasis is a common, chronic skin condition that causes red patches on the body. About 1 in 20 people with psoriasis will develop arthritis with the skin condition. In most cases, psoriasis comes before the arthritis.
The cause of psoriatic arthritis is not known, but genes may play a role.
The arthritis may be mild and involve only a few joints, especially those at the end of the fingers or toes.
In some people the disease may be severe and affect many joints, including the spine. When the spine is affected, the symptoms are stiffness, burning, and pain, most often in the lower spine and sacrum.
People who also have arthritis usually have the skin and nail changes of psoriasis. Often, the skin gets worse at the same time as the arthritis.
Signs and tests
During a physical exam, the health care provider will look for:
Joint x-rays may be done.
Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to reduce pain and swelling of the joints.
More severe arthritis needs to be treated with more powerful drugs called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as:
New medications that block an inflammatory protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) are becoming the treatment of choice for psoriatic arthritis. These include:
Sometimes, very painful joints may be injected with steroid medications.
In rare cases, patients need surgery to repair or replace damaged joints.
Your doctor may suggest a healthy mix of rest and exercise. Physical therapy may help increase the movement of specific joints. You may also use heat and cold therapy.
The disease is often mild and affects only a few joints. A few people will have severe psoriatic arthritis in their hands, feet, and spine that causes deformities.
In people with severe arthritis, treatment can still relieve pain and prevent joint destruction, especially if it is started early.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if arthritis symptoms develop along with psoriasis.
Husni ME. Psoriatic arthritis. In: Carey WD, ed. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010.
- Last Reviewed on 06/15/2012
- Ariel D. Teitel, MD, MBA, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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This page was last updated: May 31, 2013