Health

9 Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms You Should Know

While experts say this isn’t the most common psoriatic arthritis symptom, it can make life with this condition even more difficult. If you have heel pain that you can’t explain away with other reasons (say, a new pair of shoes that haven’t been broken in yet), you should get it checked out by a doctor.

6. Your lower back and hips are often sore.

While many of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis overlap, back pain (particularly the location where it occurs) can help differentiate between the two conditions.

“When psoriatic arthritis affects the spine, it is most often the lowest portions of the spine and the sacroiliac joints that are affected, whereas rheumatoid arthritis most often affects the very top of the neck,” says Dr. Rosenstein.

Inflammation in the sacroiliac joints (the parts that connect your pelvis to the bottom of your spine) can also extend into your butt, Lynn M. Ludmer, M.D., medical director of rheumatology at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center. This might make it even more confusing to figure out what’s going on.

7. You have pain or burning in your elbow.

A condition called “tennis elbow” can sometimes show up as a symptom of psoriatic arthritis, even if you’ve never picked up a racquet. Again, this has to do with the inflammation that happens in spots where your tendons connect to bones, says Dr. Rosenstein. You might notice pain or burning in the external part of your elbow, along with poor grip strength, per the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

8. You’re having problems with your eyes.

The inflammation from psoriatic arthritis can even target your eyes, says Dr. Ludmer. In fact, some research says between 7 percent and 20 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis appear to develop uveitis, a serious form of inflammation in the tissue of the eye wall that can lead to irreversible vision loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. Early warning signs of this condition include pain and redness in the eyes, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and “floaters” in your field of vision.

9. You’re constantly exhausted.

Psoriatic arthritis pits your immune system and healthy cells against each other, which can feel as though it’s turned your body into a battleground. Coping with the chronic inflammation is downright exhausting, with about half of people with psoriatic arthritis reporting intense fatigue as a symptom in some studies. Other symptoms related to psoriatic arthritis, like pain (along with trouble sleeping because of it) and reduced ability to exercise can worsen the fatigue and make you feel wiped out all the time.

“Sometimes there’s an overall feeling of weakness,” says Dr. Mikulik.

If you have these symptoms, here’s where to get professional help.

Just because you have one (or even a few) of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have psoriatic arthritis. Tons of other things can cause fatigue, for example, like stress, anxiety disorders, and sleep apnea, which makes it difficult to use a list of symptoms alone to figure out if you have psoriatic arthritis. The only way to know for sure is to talk to a doctor and get a proper diagnosis as soon as possible if you need one. Remember: Psoriatic arthritis can lead to permanent joint damage without treatment, not to mention make a big impact on your daily life.

“If someone has persistent joint pain or stiffness, especially if accompanied by joint swelling or tenderness, and even more so if it’s affecting more than one joint simultaneously, this should be brought to the attention of a physician. Most internists or family practitioners can do the preliminary evaluation to determine what condition may be responsible,” says Dr. Rosenstein.

Your doctor may need to refer you to a rheumatologist, a dermatologist, or potentially both for diagnosis and treatment. If you realize in your search for care that you have access to a combined rheumatology-dermatology clinic, that can be a really excellent way to land on a treatment plan that collaborates between the two types of care, says Dr. Mikulik. The National Psoriasis Foundation can help you find specialist providers and prepare for your first appointment.

While there’s no known cure for psoriatic arthritis, treatments have come a long way, says Dr. Rosenstein.

“Our understanding of the function of the immune system has led to the development of all sorts of new medications that can help reset the overactive immune system and tone down the attack on its own tissues, whether it be skin or joints,” he explains. “We can now, in the vast majority of cases, moderate the inflammation and minimize or arrest the skin lesions and joint damage.”

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