What is psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that causes swelling and pain in joints and the places where tendons and ligaments attach to bones. Most people who develop psoriatic arthritis already have psoriasis (a skin disease), but a small number have joint pain before the skin rash.

Who gets psoriatic arthritis?

Anyone can get psoriatic arthritis, but it is most common in adults, affecting men and women equally.

Most people who get it already have psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis usually develops about 7 to 10 years after skin symptoms begin. You may be more likely to get psoriatic arthritis if you:  

  • Are obese.
  • Have severe psoriasis.
  • Experience stress, joint or bone injuries, or infection.

What are the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis?

Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are different for each person. They may include:

  • Scaly, inflamed patches of skin, often on the scalp, elbows, or knees.
  • Joint stiffness, pain, and swelling of one or more joints.
  • Feeling tired often (fatigue) or having a lack of energy.
  • Tenderness in areas where tendons or ligaments attach to bones. The back of the heel and sole of the foot are commonly affected spots.
  • Painful, sausage-like swelling of a whole finger or toe.
  • Nail changes, such as tiny dents or crumbling. Nails can also separate from the nail bed.
  • Eye inflammation, especially inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. This condition can cause eye pain, redness, and blurry vision, which must be treated as soon as possible to avoid vision loss.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, which causes inflammation in the digestive tract.

What causes psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis can happen when your immune system overacts and causes problems. Doctors know that certain factors may trigger your immune system, causing the disease. These factors include:

  • Genes: Many people who get psoriatic arthritis have a family history of the disease.
  • Environment: Some factors may trigger the disease, such as:
    • Obesity
    • Infection.
    • Injury.
    • Stress.

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