It can affect between 10%-30% of psoriatics and is more frequent in patients with psoriatic nails or pustular psoriasis.
Characteristic symptoms include joint pain with or without swelling, stiffness, throbbing, redness of joints and heat within the joints, swelling with 'sausage-like' appearance of the fingers and toes, tenderness of joints and the surrounding tissue, morning stiffness, reduced movement and functioning. Eye pain and redness, similar to those symptoms of conjuctivitis, may also be present.
In 85% of patients who suffer from psoriatic arthritis, their skin symptoms preceded the joint disease on average by about 10 years. Most patients typically develop psoriatic arthritis between the ages of 30-50 years.
Although, as yet, there is no definitive medical test to determine psoriatic arthritis, other forms of arthritis, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, have to be tested for in a process of elimination. Blood tests, MRI's and X-rays of the joints are typical diagnostic tests conducted to determine the type of arthritis involved.
There are five different types of Psoriatic Arthritis:
- Distal arthritis - involving the small joints of the hands and feet, especially of the toes and fingers.
- Oligoathritis - involving less than five larger joints.
- Polyathritis - where more than five joints are involved and often presents with a similar appearance to rheumatoid arthritis.
- Arthritis mutilans - a very destructive form of the disease that may cause permanent damage to the joints.
- Spondylarthropathy - involving inflammation of the spine and hip joints.
Not all patients present with all of the symptoms, however it is vital to seek diagnosis and treatment from a GP or rheumatologist if you are experiencing:
- morning stiffness that lasts for two hours or more,
- swelling accompanied by heat within the joints and redness of the joints,
- persistent pain even after taking asprin.