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Overlapping Psoriatic Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

When arthritis-related diseases have similar symptoms, how do you know which you have? Can you have more than one?

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Q: Is it possible to have both RA and PsA?

A: It is certainly possible that a person could have both rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. However, doctors, including rheumatologists, generally avoid making multiple diagnoses when a single diagnosis could suffice. Some characteristics of psoriatic arthritis – for example symmetric arthritis involving the small joints of the hands – can occur in both conditions. So if a patient with skin psoriasis had [these symptoms], the doctor would likely diagnose psoriatic arthritis, rather than psoriasis plus rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthur Kavanaugh, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
University of California, San Diego

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