Psoriatic Arthritis

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Psoriatic Arthritis is a form of arthritis associated with psoriasis, a chronic disease in which scaly red and white patches develop on the skin. Like rheumatoid arthritis, it results when the body's immune system, which normally exists to protect against invaders, goes into overdrive and causes excessive inflammation.

It can affect any joint within the body. When psoriasis affects fingernails causing them to be pitted, thickened, or discoloured, the joints at the end of the fingertips are particularly likely to develop arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis can also cause a sausage-like swelling of fingers and toes, a condition known as dactylitis that can be confused with an infection.

There are FIVE main types:

. . . Symmetric - affects joints on both sides of the body simultaneously.
. . . Asymmetric - This type does not occur in the same joints on both sides of the body and usually only involves less than 3 joints.
. . . Arthritis Mutilans - is a severe, deforming and destructive arthritis. This condition can progress over months or years causing severe joint damage.
. . . Spondylitis - This type is characterised by stiffness of the spine or neck, but can also affect the hands and feet, in a similar fashion to symmetric arthritis.
. . . Distal Interphalangeal Predominant - This type is characterised by inflammation and stiffness in the joints nearest to the ends of the fingers and toes. Nail changes are often marked.


  • Nail abnormalities
  • Skin lesions
  • Joint swelling and joint pain
  • Pain and swelling at the site of attachment of tendons to bone

  • Causes:
    The exact cause is unknown, but researchers suspect that the disorder develops because of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. As many as 40 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis have a family history of psoriasis or arthritis, indicating that they are prone to develop arthritis because of their genetic makeup, especially when their immune system is stimulated by an environmental trigger such as an infection.

  • Skin care
  • Light treatment (UVB or PUVA)
  • Corrective cosmetics
  • Medications: glucocorticoids, NSAIDs, DMARDs such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, gold, cyclosporine
  • Exercise
  • Rest
  • Heat and cold
  • Splints
  • Surgery (rarely)

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