Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis

Dr. Kam Shojania, MD FRCPC, Rheumatologist, discusses psoriatic arthritis symptoms.

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Dr. Kam Shojania, MD FRCPC, Rheumatologist, discusses psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Kam Shojania, MD, FRCPC

Duration: 1 minute, 45 seconds

So to diagnose psoriatic arthritis, one typically looks for the usual skin features of psoriasis, but what's interesting is people with psoriatic arthritis get fingernail or toenail changes with small pits. We call them nail pits.

People who have nail pits are more likely to get the arthritis portion of this psoriatic arthritis. So we look for the joints that are inflamed, we look for pain. People with psoriatic arthritis also get an unusual type of joint inflammation or inflammation called dactyliitis, the other term for this is sausage finger or sausage toe. It's an enlarged, painful, sausage-looking digit.

People with psoriatic arthritis also get inflammation where the tendons insert onto the bone, such as the heel, or around the elbow, or in the back area. So there's both joint skin and tendon involvement in people with psoriatic arthritis, and that's how we make the diagnosis because there is no specific blood test that will help us.

Psoriatic arthritis is diagnosed with typical symptoms of skin, joint, and tendon involvement. And the nice thing is if we catch it we can reverse the skin involvement and clear up about 90 percent of the skin, so it's very nice to be able to do that.

And in the joints we can actually prevent progression and damage of the joints if we catch it early. There are certain topical, oral, and injectable medications that can be used to manage psoriatic arthritis.

If you think you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis you need to ask your healthcare professional.

Presenter: Dr. Kam Shojania, Rheumatologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

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Quiz: Do You Understand Psoriatic Arthritis?


Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include warmth, swelling and pain in the joints. The skin is also affected with psoriasis, becoming red, scaly and inflamed. Psoriasis patches or plaques often appear on the scalp, elbows, lower back and knees, although it can appear on the scalp, fingernails or toenails.


Psoriasis can affect the fingernails and toenails.


With proper psoriatic arthritis treatment the joint damage can be reversed.


Once someone experiences joint damage from PsA, it can’t be reversed. Psoriatic arthritis can even destroy the joints if the disease isn’t properly treated or controlled.


Drugs made from living organisms or components of living organisms are a treatment for psoriatic arthritis.


Treatments for PsA are designed to prevent joint damage and control inflammation, and include disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics (drugs made from living organisms or components of living organisms).


Heart disease is not linked to psoriatic arthritis.


You also need to control blood pressure and cholesterol to prevent heart disease. People with psoriatic arthritis have an increased frequency of myocardial infarction, heart attacks, strokes, and often have high cholesterol, hypertension and other conditions that go along with the metabolic syndrome.


Losing weight can help the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.


If you're overweight, it's important to manage your diet, weight, and exercise to limit reduce extra weight on your joints, which can decrease the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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