Skin & Bones

What is the connection?

PSORIASIS AND PSORIATIC ARTHRITIS GO HAND IN HAND

Both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are part of a family of conditions called psoriatic disease, and both of them cause inflammation. In the case of psoriasis, this inflammation happens on the skin, with red, itchy and scaly patches (known as plaques) appearing most commonly on the elbows, knees, scalp, chest and lower back. In psoriatic arthritis, however, this inflammation is not as obvious to the eye; it results in swollen and painful joints and tendons, and can occur in any area of the body.

Both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are part of a family of conditions called psoriatic disease, and both of them cause inflammation. In the case of psoriasis, this inflammation happens on the skin, with red, itchy and scaly patches (known as plaques) appearing most commonly on the elbows, knees, scalp, chest and lower back. In psoriatic arthritis, however, this inflammation is not as obvious to the eye; it results in swollen and painful joints and tendons, and can occur in any area of the body.

 

Nearly all individuals with psoriatic arthritis also have psoriasis, and for around 80% of them, the skin condition appears before the joint condition. People may also be at increased risk for developing psoriatic arthritis if their psoriasis symptoms involve scalp lesions; misshapen, damaged or infected nails; or inflammation of the skin in the buttock area.

 

Something to keep in mind is that there is no clear link between the severity of your psoriasis and the severity of the symptoms you might have if you develop psoriatic arthritis.

If left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can cause severe permanent joint damage.

Are people making the connection?

In this video, dermatologists weigh in on a surprising statistic about how few people associate their skin with their joints.

Don’t ignore the signs

Sue never expected her psoriasis to put her at risk for psoriatic arthritis. In this video, she explains how important it is for people like her to be aware of the connection, and how important it is to be educated about what can be done for it.

Psoriatic arthritis can affect several different areas of the body. These include:

  • Peripheral joints such as the ankles, knees or elbows (referred to as arthritis)

  • The axial skeleton, including the spine (called spondylitis)

  • The areas where tendons and ligaments insert into bone (called enthesitis)

  • Inflammation in whole fingers and toes (known as dactylitis)

  • The skin and the nails

Many people will, of course, attribute joint pain and stiffness in these places to aging or something they’ve done—such as an injury due to exercise or some other strenuous activity—unless the symptoms continue or get worse. That’s why it’s so important to keep a watchful eye on signs like these if you have psoriasis.

What are the signs and risk factors of psoriatic arthritis?