Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is a form of joint inflammation that is associated with a scaling skin condition called psoriasis. It is an autoimmune condition similar to rheumatoid arthritis, in which our immune system attacks our joints, causing painful inflammation and joint damage. Men and women are equally affected.
Like many autoimmune conditions, the exact cause is not known. Studies have shown that both genetic and environmental factors are implicated.
PsA can affect any joints. Patients will usually develop joint pain and stiffness that is worse first thing in the morning and gets better as the days goes on. The spine may be involved. Sometimes sausage like swelling may affect an entire finger or toe.
PsA is diagnosed based on patients’ symptoms and clinical examination by a doctor, usually in a patient with skin psoriasis, though the skin may not always be involved at the onset of joint inflammation. Blood tests showing elevated inflammatory markers are helpful. Often X-rays may also be needed.