What is PsA? | Double Whammy
 
Select Page

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic (sor’e-at’ik) arthritis or PsA is a long-term condition that affects your skin on the outside and your joints on the inside.1,2

While psoriasis (the skin condition) affects 2-3% of the population, PsA (the combined skin and joint condition) occurs far less often and is not as well known.3

Psoriatic arthritis affects different people in different ways. Some people experience mild psoriatic arthritis with only a few sore joints, which occasionally flare to cause worse symptoms. For others the disease can be severe and, over time, could result in permanent joint damage1,3. Likewise, skin symptoms can vary over time and between different people.1-3

Early diagnosis is important. Appropriate treatments exist that can minimise the progression of PsA symptoms, allowing you to lead a full and active life.1,4-8

If you’ve been hit by swollen, stiff and painful joints as well as skin symptoms, you could have psoriatic arthritis.1-2

Take the first step towards a full and active life:8 complete the psoriatic arthritis symptom checker and then talk to your general practitioner (GP) or dermatologist about your results.8

What are the symptoms of PsA?

PsA symptoms include red, scaly and sometimes itchy patches of skin known as psoriasis, as well as swollen, stiff and painful joints. These symptoms in the joints and on the skin can flare and subside over time and their severity can vary enormously between different people. Sometimes the location of the symptoms can move around in the same person. Also, the severity of the joint pain doesn’t necessarily correlate with the severity of the skin symptoms.1,2

Learn more

There are also other symptoms to watch out for:1,2

  • Fingers and toes that are swollen without a previous injury to them
  • Reduced range of movement in your joints
  • Joint stiffness upon waking up
  • Pain in the lower back, upper back and/or neck
psoriasis
  • General fatigue
  • Pain and/or swelling in the back of your heel
  • Changes to nails, such as pitting of your nails or separation of the nail from the nail bed
  • Skin symptoms (psoriasis) can range from very mild to severe. Dry, scaly skin typically appears on the scalp, behind the ears and around the groin.2,4

PsA can be mistaken for other joint conditions.9 Your GP or dermatologist may refer you to a rheumatologist – a bone, joint or muscle specialist – who is often the best doctor to see for psoriatic arthritis. They can give you a correct diagnosis and help to prevent permanent joint damage.4

Who’s affected by PsA?

The first signs of PsA usually appear between the ages of 30 and 50 years, although it can strike at any age.1

Learn more


  • Men and women are equally affected by PsA.10
  • Up to one in three people with psoriasis may develop PsA.11
115x72x10year_icon_v3.png.pagespeed.ic.Sv-fakTg6k
Family_icon
  • Commonly, psoriasis (the skin condition on its own) occurs approximately 10 years before the onset of PsA.10
  • A family history of psoriasis or PsA may mean your are at greater risk of developing the condition yourself.2

What causes PsA?

The exact cause of PsA is unknown. An unknown trigger causes an abnormal response of your body’s immune system.1,2

Learn more

Instead of just attacking the bugs that could make you ill, the immune system mistakenly attacks your skin and joints. The inflammation in PsA leads to skin symptoms and joint swelling, pain and stiffness.1,2  Why the immune system makes this mistake is unclear. Some additional factors that may influence whether someone is at risk of PsA are:2

  • Genetics – many people with PsA have family members who are also affected by the condition or by psoriasis
  • Environmental factors – exposure to environmental factors such as certain types of infections and physical injury can increase the risk of developing PsA

Living with PsA

The pain and discomfort of the red, scaly skin patches of psoriasis as well as the joint pain, swelling and stiffness of PsA can have a negative impact on your daily life, making even your regular, daily activities difficult.12,13

Learn more

If you have psoriasis – or if you have family members with psoriasis or PsA – but you don’t have joint symptoms, make sure you talk to your GP or dermatologist about it anyway. If you then develop joint symptoms, it will make it easier for your doctor to connect your symptoms and refer you to a specialist for further investigation and diagnosis.

What can you do about PsA?

If you think you may be at risk of PsA, complete the symptom checker and talk to your GP or dermatologist about your results.

Learn more

If you have psoriasis – or if you have family members with psoriasis or PsA – but you don’t have joint symptoms, make sure you talk to your GP or dermatologist about it anyway. If you then develop joint symptoms, it will make it easier for your doctor to connect your symptoms and refer you to a specialist for further investigation and diagnosis.

References

  1. American College of Rheumatology. Fast Facts: Psoriatic arthritis. Available at: www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases_And_Conditions/Psoriatic_Arthritis/ [Last accessed: August 2016].
  2. Fitzgerald O. 2013. Psoriatic arthritis. In: Firestein GS, et al. Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: Elsevier, 1232–1268.
  3. Gladman DD. Ann Rheum Dis. 2005;64:ii14–ii17.
  4. Haroon M, et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2015;74:1045–1050.
  5. Gladman DD, et al. Arthritis Res Ther. 2010;12:R113.
  6. Goulabchand R, et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014;73:414–419.
  7. NHS Choices. Psoriatic arthritis. Available at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/Pages/Introduction.aspx [Last accessed: September 2016].
  1. National Psoriasis Foundation. Psoriatic Arthritis. Available at: www.psoriasis.org/psoriatic-arthritis [Last accessed: September 2016].
  2. National Psoriasis Foundation. About Psoriatic Arthritis. Available at: www.psoriasis.org/aboutpsoriaticarthritis [Last accessed: September 2016].
  3. Gladman DD. J Rheumatol. 2009;36(Suppl. 83):4–8.
  4. Mease PJ, et al. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2013;69:729–735.
  5. Helliwell P, et al. Arthritis Care Res. 2014;66:1759–1766.
  6. Lebwohl M, et al. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;70:871–881.