Psoriatic Arthritis

When psoriatic arthritis does strike, it could well be determined by your hereditary factors, the state of your immune system as well as other trigger factors.

For both men and women, it mainly affects psoriasis sufferers above 30 years of age but it could also strike at any age. It is estimated that anywhere up to 30% of people with psoriasis conditions will eventually develop psoriasis arthritis.

The causes of psoriasis itself are a difficult disease to understand and many prominent scientists are working on the causes as well as psoriasis cures. It is however agreed that the inflammatory disease is an autoimmune disease. The sufferer tends to have a weakened immune system and is suffering from inflammation.

If you are suffering from psoriasis symptoms and are experiencing joint pains, it is quite likely that you have psoriatic arthritis. If this is the case, you may experience nail psoriasis symptoms as well. The nails could appear pitted with ridges and sometimes discolored and crumbly.

When this happened they often lift from the nail bed. Both the fingernails and toenails can be affected. It is estimated that about 80% of patients with this type of psoriasis get nail psoriasis.


Psoriatic arthritis symptoms are not only joint-related as they can also cause inflammation in other organs. For example, inflammation in the iris (the coloured part of the eye) causes iritis. As you may well be aware, this is a rather painful condition that can make you sensitive to bright light.

Other common psoriatic arthritis symptoms are as follows:

  • Stiffness in the joints
  • Pain/ swelling in the joints
  • Eye problems (irritation, redness and light sensitivity)

The disease most commonly involves inflammation in your knees, joints, spine, hands and feet.

The more severe your psoriasis symptoms, the greater your chances of developing psoriatic arthritis! It is therefore essential for you to visit your doctor or dermatologist as early as you can if you experience any joint stiffness or pain. The earlier it is caught the earlier it can be treated.

There are some good psoriasis medications that can prevent or certainly help with joint disability and deformities. So see you doctor as early as you can, so that you know exactly what you are dealing with in order to start early treatment.

The longer you leave it untreated, the worse it gets! Once the joint degeneration sets in, it may be impossible to reverse it. As a word of warning- it can also develop very quickly and if left untreated, can quickly progress to stiffness in the joints that can last for many hours.

The disease can also cause spondylitis (inflammation of the spine) and the sacrum. This causes pain in the lower back, upper back, neck and buttocks.


Getting a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis at the earliest stage you can is imperative to successful treatment. You do this by visiting your medical care provider. They will examine you; look at your medical history, your finger nails, toenails, joints and so on and make their conclusion.

They can often make a diagnosis purely from their examination. If you have signs of psoriasis symptoms then it’s most likely that you will have psoriatic arthritis.

If the physical examination is still unclear, other tests like a blood test to distinguish it from rheumatoid arthritis due to their similar symptoms will be made. X rays can be taken to make a final diagnosis of your condition.


Just like psoriasis symptoms, psoriasis arthritis can be caused by triggers like stress, poor diet (inflammation causing foods) environment, alcohol, smoking, and so on. A family history of the disease is also a common denominator.


The treatment for psoriasis arthritis can take the form of psoriasis medications as well as other therapies. As mentioned in previous discussions, since we are all different, there is no one cure for all! Therefore, your dermatologist will try many treatments and see how your psoriasis symptoms respond to them.

Conventional Treatments

Your specialist doctor (dermatologist) will most likely try to control the inflammation as their initial goal. By doing this, the treatment will help you to control further joint destruction and ease joint movement by relieving the associated pain and stiffness. All your psoriasis symptoms will also be addressed at the same time.

Some of the start-off treatments are the use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen or naproxen (NSAIDs- non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These NSAIDs can provide good long term relief from the associated chronic pain and inflammation that goes hand in hand with psoriatic arthritis.

As there are various NSAIDs you may be encouraged to try a few before you settle on one that you find works well for and that you can tolerate.

So what are the side effects if any?

Long term use of NSAIDs can cause symptoms such as stomach irritation, peptic ulcers and bleeding because they block the mucus layer lining production, of the inner stomach.

To counteract this side effect your doctor will prescribe some medication such as cytotec or omeprazole to protect the stomach.

Other common psoriasis-arthritis treatment includes corticosteroids (steroids) such as prednisone. This list also includes the disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

They have been shown to slow down the progress of psoriatic arthritis. These include methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and leflunomide, Enbrel, Humira, Remicade and Simponi.

These drugs work by suppressing your immune system and as a result could leave you open to other infections that your suppressed immune system find difficult to deal-with.  

Other Psoriasis Arthritis Treatment

Your doctor may also prescribe other psoriasis medications such as Retinoids, cyclosporine, azathioprine or even PUVA (a light sensitizing medication).

As always, healthy diet and exercise are extremely important and beneficial in reducing your weight. This not only takes stress of your joints but may also ease your joint pain.

Muscle and bone strengthening exercises are particularly good choices. Also include walking and swimming. Water therapies (hydrotherapy, aqua therapy) such as a set of exercises performed in a pool are also excellent choices.

Like swimming these exercises are less painful on your joints but very effective and especially beneficial for psoriatic arthritis.

Note. Improper exercise can make your psoriasis arthritis even worse. A good idea is to talk through things with your doctor and plan your exercise program out properly and know your limits.

Always listen to your body! Don’t try to overdo things as they may put further strain on the very thing you are trying to get relief from. So tread carefully, but keep at it.      

› Psoriatic Arthritis- Symptoms, Diagnosis, Causes and Treatments

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Visit Types of Psoriatic Arthritis: Asymmetric, Symmetric, distal interphalangeal predominant, Spondylitis and Arthritis Mutilans

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