Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack healthy tissue in your joints and skin. This immune system malfunction causes joint swelling, pain, and stiffness. The swelling can affect your entire body and cause permanent damage to your joints and tissues if not treated early.
Symptoms vary from one person to another. Many people with psoriatic arthritis have periods when symptoms worsen, called flares. Most people develop signs on their skin or nails before they notice pain and stiffness in their joints, while others experience joint symptoms first — and some may not have any skin symptoms at all.
Many of the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are common among other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, so psoriatic arthritis can be difficult to diagnose. The most common symptoms include:
- Joint pain and swelling, which most typically occurs in the ankles, knees, fingers, toes, and lower back
- Joint stiffness in the morning or after a period of inactivity
- Finger or toe swelling that affects your entire finger or toe, not just the joint (dactylitis)
- Tendon or ligament pain and tenderness, most often affecting your heel or bottom of your foot
- Skin rash with thick, reddened skin and scaly patches (psoriasis)
- Pitted, infected-looking nails or nails that lift off the nail bed completely
- Reduced range of motion of limbs and joints
- Eye irritation, redness, swelling, and pain
- Inflammatory bowel disease, especially Crohn's disease
- Lung problems
- Metabolic syndrome (obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol)
- Bone disorders, including osteopenia and osteoporosis
Rheumatologists at University of Miami Health System have advanced experience diagnosing and treating psoriatic arthritis. We design a customized treatment plan to relieve your symptoms and give you comprehensive care. With locations throughout South Florida, you can get personalized treatment that’s close to home.
Also called phototherapy, light therapy can help relieve psoriasis rashes. During this noninvasive therapy, your doctor positions a special ultraviolet light over the rash for a short period.
Doctors use a variety of medicines to treat psoriatic arthritis, including:
- Corticosteroids: Slow the body's immune response to relieve swelling and pain. They can be taken by mouth or injected directly into the joint.
- Disease-modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs): Suppress the immune system broadly to prevent swelling. Most are taken as a pill.
- Genetically Engineered Biologics: A newer type of DMARD that targets specific immune functions to prevent swelling. Biologics are usually given as an injection or as an intravenous (IV) infusion.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Reduce swelling and relieve pain, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
- Topical Medicines: Creams, gels, shampoos, and other solutions can ease the symptoms of psoriasis. These over-the-counter and prescription medicines are applied directly to the rash.
Doctors use various blood tests to look for signs of swelling, including erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein test, and rheumatoid factor test (to rule out rheumatoid arthritis).
Doctors use noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (magnetic energy and radio waves) and X-rays to look for any changes to bones or joints.
This procedure, also called arthrocentesis, allows your doctor to examine joint fluid (synovial fluid) to rule out gout or infectious arthritis. Your doctor uses a needle to withdraw the fluid, which is analyzed in the lab.
Why Choose UHealth?
The latest treatments for psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis can be difficult to diagnose, so it’s important to work with an experienced team. Our rheumatologists are also researchers, so you get care from specialists on the leading edge of arthritis treatment.
Comprehensive care from a team of specialists. Psoriatic arthritis can increase your risk of other diseases, so our rheumatologists work with doctors from a full range of medical specialties. You get comprehensive, coordinated care from dermatologists, gastroenterologists, cardiovascular specialists, pulmonologists (lung diseases), endocrinologists, orthopedic doctors, and others as needed.
Specialized care to improve your quality of life. Your team will educate you about psoriatic arthritis and help you learn how to manage symptoms with a nutritious diet, exercise, proper skin care, and other healthy lifestyle habits. We make sure you have the support and resources you need to relieve symptoms and improve your well-being.
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