How to Recognize Psoriatic Arthritis


Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis, or inflammation of the joints, that is characterized by swollen, painful or tender joints, a limited range of motion, and stiffness, as well as symptoms that affect the nails and eyes. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease in which thickened skin, dry scales and sores appear on the skin and scalp. People who suffer from psoriasis may develop psoriatic arthritis as well. This condition is difficult to diagnose, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. To diagnose psoriatic arthritis, doctors rely on their patients' description of symptoms as well as tests to rule out other medical conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • X-ray images
  • Lab tests

Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. People who suffer from this kind of arthritis experience joint pain, swelling and stiffness that is characteristic of many types of arthritis, but they may also feel tired and have back pain and other localized tenderness in their muscles and tendons. Nail pitting, nail changes that look like an infection, and pinkeye may also accompany psoriatic joint pain, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.

Undergo a complete physical examination. If you have already been diagnosed with psoriasis of the skin or scalp, let your doctor know about your joint pain. The National Psoriasis Foundation explains that in most people (85 percent) who have both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, the arthritis develops after the onset of psoriasis.

Undergo imaging studies to rule out other forms of arthritis. During your workup for psoriatic arthritis, your doctor may take x-ray images to look at your bones and joints. Damage that is present from rheumatoid arthritis, for example, may not look the same as deterioration that comes from psoriatic arthritis, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Ask your doctor to test your rheumatoid factor, uric acid levels, and erythrocyte sedimentation (or sed) rate through blood testing. Your sed rate increases in response to inflammation, and is a tool for diagnosing inflammatory joint disease. Uric acid is a waste product that will become elevated if you have a form of arthritis called gout. Rheumatoid factor is a kind of protein that is present in the blood of people with rheumatoid arthritis. Again, ruling out other forms of arthritis can help your physician diagnose psoriatic joint pain.

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