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Could You Have Psoriatic Arthritis and Not Know It?

See why it's important to recognize the signs of psoriatic arthritis early.

Medically reviewed in January 2020

Updated on March 1, 2021

If you’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis, then you’re (way too) familiar with the accompanying thick, dry, red patches of skin that flake off in silvery scales. But if you’re experiencing joint pain or swelling along with this chronic skin condition, there’s a chance you might be one of the many people with undiagnosed psoriatic arthritis, a type of inflammatory arthritis that attacks the joints and tendons. 

In one study, the National Psoriasis Foundation conducted interviews with 477 people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. They found that 22 percent of people who had been diagnosed only with psoriasis also had significant psoriatic arthritis symptoms. That’s nearly one in four people. 

The survey also found that among participants diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, 44 percent said it took a year or more to get a diagnosis, and 30 percent said it took longer than two years. That’s a major issue, because early intervention is key to saving your joints. If left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can cause your joints to become deformed and lead to long-term disability and discomfort. 

Signs of psoriatic arthritis 
If you have psoriasis or a family history of the disease, the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board recommends you contact your healthcare provider (HCP) if you experience one or more of the following psoriatic arthritis symptoms. 

  • Pain, swelling or stiffness in one or more joints 
  • Joints that are red or warm to the touch 
  • Frequent joint tenderness or stiffness 
  • Sausage-like swelling in one or more of the fingers and toes 
  • Pain in and around the feet and ankles 
  • Changes to the nails, such as pitting or separation from the nail bed 
  • Pain in the lower back, above the tailbone 

The earlier you recognize these signs of psoriatic arthritis and reach out to your HCP, the earlier you can start treatment—and keep your joints working properly.

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