Psoriatic Arthritis

By Sonya Thigpen, PTA, ATC, LAT

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects people who have psoriasis, a skin and nail disease. Psoriasis is a chronic disease that can cause red patches of skin topped with silvery scales as well as thickened nails. With psoriatic arthritis, the body’s immune system begins to attack healthy cells and tissue, and this leads to inflammation in the joints of the body. This immune response is like what is seen in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), however, it typically affects less joints than RA. It is a chronic condition that worsens over time, but there are times when the symptoms can diminish (and then return later).

Picture of hands of someone with Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic Arthritis can cause pain in the joints of the hand

To learn more about arthritis in the hands read: The Arthritic Hand

What Are The Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis?

Symptoms may include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. The affected joint might also feel warm to the touch. It can affect any joint in the body but is commonly seen the fingers and toes, foot, and low back. Changes in nail condition as well as eye inflammation can also be symptoms.

What Are The Risk Factors For Psoriatic Arthritis?

Having a diagnosis with psoriasis is the greatest risk factor for developing psoriatic arthritis as around 30% of those diagnosed with psoriasis will develop it. Family history and age also play a role as risk factors for developing it. It is typical for people with the condition to have a parent or a sibling with the disease. It is most commonly seen in people ages 35-55.

How is Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosed?

Having a previous diagnosis of psoriasis makes it easier to confirm psoriatic arthritis in a patient. If the skin and nail symptoms of psoriasis are not present, it is more difficult to diagnose. The doctor will discuss family history and perform a physical exam. The doctor might also utilize X-Ray, CT scans and MRI imaging as well as perform bloodwork to help rule out other conditions that can cause joint pain, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout, to help with diagnosis.


Because there is no cure, the treatment will include controlling the patient’s symptoms and preventing further joint damage. In a patient with both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, both the skin condition and joint condition will be treated. A doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatories to decreased inflammation as well as vitamins and minerals used to help slow down bone deformation. A doctor might also prescribe Occupational Therapy and/or Physical Therapy to help improve your ability to do your daily activities as well as strengthen the muscles to improve joint function. On occasion, usually several years after a diagnosis, surgery may be required to repair or replace the joint that is damaged.

Environmental conditions and unhealthy habits can trigger a psoriatic arthritis flare-up. Examples include exposure to cigarette smoke, drinking too much alcohol and taking certain medications. Cold weather and severe stress can also cause psoriatic arthritis flare ups. Avoiding smoking and alcohol consumption and as well as decreasing stress can help to avoid flare-ups.

Related Articles: OsteoarthritisArthritis OverviewDirect Access Physical Therapy

If you have been prescribed Physical or Occupational Therapy to treat you arthritis, JOI Can Help! We have Convenient locations throughout the Northeast Florida region. To book an appointment call 904-858-7045 or click the book an appointment button below. If you want to see an MD, we have Physicians which specialize in treating such injuries or ailments. To book a new appointment with one today call 904-JOI-2000 or schedule online. 


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