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Could You Have Psoriatic Arthritis and Not Know It?

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

Close-up of the knee of a man experiencing psoriatic arthritis' early symptoms, like swelling, pain and tenderness.

Updated on December 14, 2022

If you’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis, then you’re familiar with the accompanying thick, dry, red or discolored 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, published in 2018 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, researchers found that 96 percent of patients with psoriatic arthritis were first given a misdiagnosis. In the study, the majority of patients (51 percent) received an appropriate diagnosis within a year after seeking medical treatment; however, 17 percent were diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis after 5 years or more, and 15 percent were not diagnosed until after more than 10 years of symptoms. 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:

  • Joint pain, swelling, or stiffness in one or more locations 
  • Joint tenderness or stiffness that occurs often
  • Joints that are warm to the touch or discolored/reddish
  • Sausage-like swelling in one or more fingers and/or toes 
  • Nails that pit or separate from the nail bed 
  • Pain in and around the heel, ankles, or feet
  • Lower back pain

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.

Article sources open article sources

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Psoriatic Arthritis. Reviewed March 2021. 
Ogdie A, Nowell WB, et al. THU0292 Diagnostic experiences of patients with psoriatic arthritis: misdiagnosis is common. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2018;77(Suppl 2):364-365. 
National Psoriasis Foundation. Are You at Risk for Psoriatic Arthritis? Updated October 1, 2020. 
American Academy of Dermatology Association. Psoriatic Arthritis: Symptoms. Accessed December 13, 2022.

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