Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis vary among different people. Many are common to other forms of arthritis, making the disease tricky to diagnose. Here’s a look at the most common symptoms – and the other conditions that share them.
Painful, swollen joints
Psoriatic arthritis typically affects the ankle, knees, fingers, toes and lower back. Pain in the lower back is also a symptom of ankylosing spondylitis, a form of inflammatory arthritis that causes the vertebrae to fuse, or joint together. Also, the joint at the tip of the finger may swell, making it easy to confuse with gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis that typically affects only one joint.
Joints tend to be stiff either first thing in the morning or after a period of rest. However, people with osteoarthritis often have similar stiffness.
Sausage-like fingers or toes
Many people with PsA have dactylitis, a sausage-like swelling along the entire length of their fingers or toes. This symptom is one that helps differentiate psoriatic arthritis from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), in which the swelling is usually confined to a single joint.
Tendon or ligament pain
People with psoriatic arthritis often develop enthesitis, or tenderness or pain where tendons or ligaments attach to bones. This commonly occurs at the heel (Achilles tendinitis) or the bottom of the foot (plantar fasciitis), but it can also occur in the elbow (tennis elbow). Each of these conditions could just as easily result from sports injuries or overuse as from psoriatic arthritis.
Skin rashes and nail changes
Psoriatic arthritis occurs with psoriasis so skin symptoms include thick, red skin with flaky, silver-white scaly patches. Nails may become pitted or infected-looking, or even lift from the nail bed entirely. These symptoms are unique to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, actually helps doctors confirm a diagnosis.
People with psoriatic arthritis often experience general feelings of fatigue. This symptom is a common feature of rheumatoid arthritis.
Reduced range of motion
The inability to move joints and limbs as freely as before is a sign of psoriatic arthritis and most other forms of arthritis.
People with PsA may get inflammation of the eyes that can cause redness, irritation and disturbed vision (uveitis) or redness and pain in tissues surrounding the eyes (conjunctivitis, or "pink eye").
Many people experience frequent periods of increased disease activity and symptoms, called flares, while others have only infrequent flares. This waxing and waning of symptoms is frequently seen with RA, as well.
Psoriatic arthritis is closely linked with inflammatory bowel disease, especially the form called Crohn’s disease. It causes diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems The inflammation that causes PsA may also harm the lungs, causing a condition known as interstitial lung disease that leads to shortness of breath, coughing and fatigue. Chronic inflammation can damage blood vessels, increasing the risk for heart attacks and strokes. People with PsA often develop metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that include obesity, high blood pressure and poor cholesterol levels. Other problems that can accompany PsA include depression, an increased risk for osteopenia (thinning bones) and osteoporosis, and a higher-than-average risk of developing gout.