Skin & Bones

What can you do?

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO STAY ON TOP OF PSORIATIC ARTHRITIS?

If a dermatologist is managing your psoriasis, they are likely keeping a watchful eye on both your skin and joints. If certain signs or symptoms arise, they may re-evaluate your management options, including treatments that may be new to you, or they may refer you to a rheumatologist for further examination. But you have a role to play, too. By being aware of your joints and remembering the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, you can take an active role in making sure your risk for psoriatic arthritis is understood, and that the condition is managed early if any symptoms arise.

If a dermatologist is managing your psoriasis, they are likely keeping a watchful eye on both your skin and joints. If certain signs or symptoms arise, they may re-evaluate your management options, including treatments that may be new to you, or they may refer you to a rheumatologist for further examination. But you have a role to play, too. By being aware of your joints and remembering the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, you can take an active role in making sure your risk for psoriatic arthritis is understood, and that the condition is managed early if any symptoms arise.

 

If you have concerns that you might already have some of the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a doctor to talk about your concerns in detail. If you don’t yet have a psoriasis diagnosis or a known family history of it, a thorough examination for psoriasis will likely take place, including searching in difficult-to-see places such as behind the ear, on the scalp, in the belly button area, and inside the buttocks. Your fingernails and toenails will also be examined for signs like pitted nails.

While most patients who develop psoriatic arthritis have skin symptoms of psoriasis first, in about 15% of cases, symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are noticed before psoriasis appears.

There is no definitive test for psoriatic arthritis.

A surprising connection

In this video, Dr. Jason Kur explains how critical it is for people with psoriasis to know the relationship between their skin and their joints, so psoriatic arthritis can be caught early and managed in the most appropriate way.

Putting the puzzle together

Due to the lack of a definitive test for psoriatic arthritis, diagnosis is not always easy. It is only made more difficult by the fact that the symptoms can easily be blamed on something else—like gout, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis—and that those symptoms differ so widely from person to person.

Due to the lack of a definitive test for psoriatic arthritis, diagnosis is not always easy. It is only made more difficult by the fact that the symptoms can easily be blamed on something else—like gout, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis—and that those symptoms differ so widely from person to person.

That means a medical expert, like a dermatologist or rheumatologist, often has to eliminate those other possibilities and put together several different pieces of the puzzle to make the connection. 

After reviewing your medical and family history, your doctor will examine your joints for the key signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Blood tests may also be ordered that can check for markers of inflammation in the blood—or markers for the other diseases psoriatic arthritis can mimic. A biopsy may also be taken from an affected joint. X-rays, ultrasounds or other imaging tools may be used to help with the diagnosis, and screening questionnaires might be used to evaluate other factors, such as fatigue.

Things you can see, and things you can’t see

Dr. Catherine Ivory details the physical exam involved in diagnosing psoriatic arthritis, including looking for psoriasis or other clues in some unusual places.

Have you been diagnosed with a psoriatic disease?

For support with navigating the condition, visit:

Canadian Association of Psoriasis Patients (CAPP)