Psoriatic arthritis is a joint problem (arthritis) that often occurs with a skin condition called psoriasis.
Arthritis - psoriatic
Psoriasis is a common skin problem that causes red patches on the body. It is an ongoing (chronic) inflammatory condition. 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. Genes, immune system, and environmental factors may play a role. It is likely that the skin and joint diseases have similar causes. However, they may not occur together.
The arthritis may be mild and involve only a few joints. The joints at the end of the fingers or toes may be more affected.
In some people the disease may be severe and affect many joints, including the spine. Symptoms in the spine include stiffness, burning, and pain. They most often occur in the lower spine and sacrum.
Most of the time, people with psoriatic arthritis have the skin and nail changes of psoriasis. Often, the skin gets worse at the same time as the arthritis.
Exams and Tests
During a physical exam, the health care provider will look for:
Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.