What is psoriatic arthritis?

This condition begins with swollen joints, usually a single toe or finger.

What causes it?

Sometimes, people with psoriasis acquire the condition, and sometimes it happens 5 to 12 years after having psoriasis, but can show up earlier. The immune system, genes, and the environment all play a role. Some who have this condition will develop psoriasis, and some with psoriasis will develop this condition.

What are the symptoms?

Feeling stiff after waking, and swollen (which may be tender or painful) joints. Nail pitting or separation, heel and tendon pain are common as well. There is no way to tell who will get this condition, which is why any symptoms should be reported to your dermatologist at Dermatology of Seattle. It is an autoimmune disease, but the exact cause is not known.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

There is no single test which can diagnose this disease, but your dermatologist will examine your fingers for swelling. Talk to and have your dermatologist examine your medical records, and inform them of relatives with psoriatic arthritis or psoriasis. An x-ray or blood test may be necessary. It can resemble other kinds of arthritis, so an examination by a rheumatologist may be recommended. Treatment for the condition involves physical therapy and medication, which can prevent the condition from damaging joints. This is a lifelong condition which can repeatedly clear and flare, which is why rest is important. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as celecoxib) are used to prevent swelling and pain, but non prescription drugs can be used as well, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, and nabumetone. Sometimes corticosteroid shots are injected into the joints to reduce swelling and pain. Disease-modifying, anti-rheumatic drugs like methotrexate, also reduce swelling and pain, and can prevent it from worsening. Surgery is an option when joints are badly damaged or medication doesn’t help. Proper treatment at Dermatology of Seattle is important, as dermatologists do not know who will get joint damage.