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What is psoriatic arthritis (PsA)?

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a condition that causes sore joints with psoriasis. Psoriatic means related to psoriasis, which is a skin condition, and arthritis means sore joints. In PsA, the immune system gets confused. It thinks the synovial membrane in the joint is the enemy, so the immune system army attacks it. The swollen synovial membrane starts making more fluid. The joint becomes overcrowded with the extra fluid, which makes the joint swollen and hard to move. All this is called inflammation. The army also attacks the tendons, especially where they’re attached to bone. After a while, the fighting wears away the cartilage so that the ends of the bones rub against each other. Sometimes the immune system attacks other parts of the body too, like the skin, nails and eyes.

Psoriatic arthritis strikes up to 30% of people with psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition that causes chronic irritation and plaques. Psoriatic arthritis typically triggers joint pain, stiffness, and swelling of the fingertips and spine. Flare-ups may happen after long periods of remission.

As many as one-third of people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis, which can cause permanent joint damage, just like other forms of arthritis. Small joints of the hands and feet are frequently affected, but larger joints may also be hit, becoming painful, swollen, and hard to move.

Sometimes psoriatic arthritis happens before any skin changes occur, and some people never even develop skin changes. But they often have severe problems with psoriatic nail damage and in some cases also develop painful eye inflammation called uveitis or iritis.

Like all arthritis, psoriatic arthritis should be treated early to prevent joint damage.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.