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Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease that includes both psoriasis and a related form of arthritis. It is a form of inflammatory arthritis that causes pain, swelling and sometimes damage to any joint in the body.
Psoriatic arthritis occurs mostly in people who are suffering from psoriasis, a chronic skin disease characterised by scaly, reddish skin rashes on the elbows, knees and scalp. Psoriasis can also affect the nails.
The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is not known. It occurs equally in both males and females at any time, but the peak age of onset is between 30 and 55 years.
Many symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are common with other form of arthritis. The most common symptoms are:
Painful, swollen joints generally affecting ankle, knees, fingers, toes, and lower back
Dactylitis - a balloon like swelling along the entire length of fingers or toes
Enthesitis - development of pain and tenderness in the area where tendons or ligaments attach the bones and is commonly seen at the heel or bottom of the foot.
Low back pain - due to the affect on sacroiliac joints (the joints that connect the spine to the pelvis)
Nail changes - including pitting and ridges
Stiffness of joints either in the morning or after rest
Red, painful eyes
Treatment is available to reduce pain and swelling of the joints, prevent joint damage, preserve joint function and control psoriasis of the skin.