Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic (ongoing) disease that is characterized by a form of inflammation of the skin (psoriasis) and some of the joints (arthritis). The condition is pronounced si-or-RAT-tic

The arthritis often involves the ankles, knees and joints in the feet. Usually, only a few joints are inflamed at a time. Patients usually develop psoriasis months or even years before they develop arthritis. 

Psoriatic arthritis can also cause inflammation in body tissues such as the eyes, heart, lungs and kidneys. For this reason, it is important to choose a health care provider that is experienced in these areas as well. 

Psoriatic arthritis is also known as arthritis psoriatica, arthropathic psoriasis or psoriatic anthropathy. The cause of the disease is unknown.

There are five types of psoriatic arthritis:

  • Asymmetric - One side and typically 3 joints or fewer
  • Symmetrical - Both sides
  • Spondylitis - Stiffness of the spine or neck, but can also affect the hands and feet
  • Distal interphalangeal joints - Inflammation and stiffness in the joints nearest the ends of the fingers and toes. Nail changes often occur. 
  • Mutilans - Rare, severe, deforming and destructive. May be seen in rheumatoid arthritis as well. 

Because prolonged inflammation can lead to joint damage, we recommend early diagnosis and treatment to slow or prevent joint damage.

Our physicians and medical care team at the University of Michigan Division of Rheumatology have decades of experience skillfully diagnosing and treating patients with psoriatic arthritis. Our goal is to improve your quality of life. 

Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis

Typical symptoms include:

  • Patchy, raised, red areas of skin inflammation with scaling or silvery patches
  • Swelling of an entire finger or toe that makes it look like a sausage
  • General joint pain, stiffness and swelling
  • Back pain and stiffness (lower back, neck and upper back)
  • Changes in the nails such as pitting or separation from the nail bed
  • Extreme exhaustion that does not go away

Diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis

There is no laboratory test for psoriatic arthritis, and the symptoms may closely resemble other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. However, our U-M physicians are experts in recognizing psoriatic arthritis. Blood tests, such as a sedimentation rate test or rheumatoid factor test, may help.

When one or two large joints are inflamed, we can use arthrocentesis to take fluid out of the joints. This fluid is then analyzed for infection, gout and other inflammatory diseases. 

Treatment for Psoriatic Arthritis

Our typical treatment for psoriatic arthritis may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS)
  • Exercise
  • Other medical approaches depending upon your condition

Contact Us / Make an Appointment

  • Orthopaedics at 734-936-5780
  • Rheumatology Services at 888-229-3065

Selecting a health care provider is a very important decision. Because we are highly experienced in treating arthritis and joint inflammation, we would like to help you explore your options. Visit our Contact Us page to see a list of clinics and their contact information. Our staff will be glad to talk with you about how we can help.