If you have psoriasis, you are already familiar with the effects that an auto-immune condition can have on your body. In the case of psoriasis, your immune system, designed to protect your body from any foreign invaders when working properly, is inaccurately seeing your skin as “foreign” and attacks by causing inflammation, leading to the skin lesions of psoriasis. That same inflammatory process causing the skin problems can also affect your musculoskeletal system resulting in inflammation of joints, tendons, and ligaments.
Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, one in three people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis.
How do you know if you might be one of them? Some common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include:
- Pain, stiffness, swelling, throbbing, or tenderness in one or more joints
- Tenderness, pain, and swelling over tendons
- Reduced range of motion
- Fatigue and especially morning tiredness and stiffness
- Nail changes such as separating from the nail bed or pitting
- Redness or pain in the eye
- “Sausage digits”—the medical term for this is dactylitis, which means swelling of an entire finger or toe, including the joints, tendons, and ligaments.
It’s important to note that these symptoms can occur gradually or suddenly. They may be mild or severe and do not necessarily correlate to the severity of your psoriasis.
Talk to Your Doctor About Joint Discomfort
If you’ve noticed changes in how your joints feel or have any of the above symptoms, you’ll want to discuss them with your rheumatologist or the physician currently treating your psoriasis. Although there is no definitive diagnostic test for psoriatic arthritis, your doctor can arrive at a diagnosis through a combination of a physical examination, your medical history, and possibly through blood tests and imaging studies such as an MRI or X-rays.
It’s important that you don’t put off getting potential symptoms of psoriatic arthritis evaluated and treated. Left untreated, this can permanently damage joints and tendons and cause long-term disability.