Psoriatic arthritis is type of inflammatory arthritis that may involve the joints, tendons or spine. The condition affects up to 30% of patients with psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin. Most typically, the skin rash of psoriasis is present before the signs and symptoms of arthritis, although in around 15% of patients, musculoskeletal pain will precede the skin rash.
Causes and Risk Factors
While the exact causes of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are not known, there are genetic and environmental factors that are associated with development of the disease. For example, having a first or second degree relative with the condition greatly increases the changes of an individual developing the disease.
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include:
- Swelling and stiffness in the joints
- Recurrent inflammation at tendons and the sites where tendons insert into bones
- Stiffness and pain in the back
- Red, scaly skin rash associated with psoriasis (most commonly found on the scalp, elbows and knees)
- Nail changes associated with psoriasis (pits, discoloration)
Psoriatic disease may also be associated with a variety of other related conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease, stroke, anxiety and depression.
There is no one test to determine if a patient has psoriatic arthritis. To reach a diagnosis, your physician may ask about your medical history, as well as complete any of the following as needed:
- Physical exam
- Blood tests
- CT scan
There are many therapies currently available for treatment of skin psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, including anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs. Your physician will work with you to determine the best course of treatment to meet your needs.
The Center for Skin and Related Musculoskeletal Diseases (SARM) was established as a referral center in 2003 as a joint venture between Rheumatology and Dermatology. The SARM clinic continues to be staffed by both rheumatologists and dermatologists, together with trainees in both disciplines, caring for patients in a seamless single visit mixed model of care. This highly novel combined clinic model is unique in its approach to both education and patient care, with only a handful of centers worldwide offering a similar environment for patient care. The center focuses on the comprehensive care of patients with psoriatic disease.
To learn more about our services or to make an appointment with a Brigham and Women’s Hospital rheumatologist, contact one of our trained coordinators at 1-800-294-9999 to get connected with the best doctor for your needs.