Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic autoimmune condition in which the immune cells attack the body’s cells, leading to joint pain and psoriasis. Since the symptoms mimic those of other forms of arthritis, it can be easily missed or misdiagnosed.

There are more than 100 types of arthritis and joint pain problems such as fibromyalgia, degenerative joint disease, gout and bursitis. The most common of them is osteoarthritis. About 27 million Americans have it and is caused by wear and tear of the joints, not an immune reaction.

Early Signs Of Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis can occur at any age and can affect any gender (even in children). It is, however, most noted between the ages of 30 and 50. About 1 million people in the US have psoriatic arthritis. Unfortunately, there’s no single blood test for it.

This #WorldArthritisDay (October 12), here are nine early signs that point to psoriatic arthritis.

1) Swollen Fingers & Toes
Swelling in the fingers and toes (dactylitis) occurs in about 40 percent of patients with psoriatic arthritis. This symptom is less common in other types of arthritis, and can help doctors distinguish between psoriatic arthritis and other joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Swelling is caused by inflammation of the tendon that runs along the fingers and toes. Swelling of finger and toes can occur much before a person starts having joint problems.

2) Joint Pain
Stiff, painful joints that are red and warm to touch is common in people with psoriatic arthritis. Morning stiffness may also pose a problem. Joint pain can easily be mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis, which is also an autoimmune disease.

3) Scaly Skin
An estimated 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes scaly skin patches. About 30 percent people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis eventually.

Symptoms of psoriasis can occur about five to 10 years before arthritis and it is rare that arthritis occurs first. The severity of psoriasis is not an indicator of psoriatic arthritis.

4) Asymmetrical Pain
In psoriatic arthritis, the pain in the joints are asymmetrical and many time only one knee might be affected but not the other. In contrast, rheumatoid arthritis affects both the knees having symmetrical pain.

5) Pitting Of Fingernails & Toenails
Psoriatic arthritis can cause discoloration or pitting (depressions form in the nail) of fingernails. They may even fall off! Since nail changes are specific to psoriatic arthritis, it is an important indication of the condition.

6) Back Problems
People with the condition also experience back problems. Back pain results from inflammation and stiffness can also occur in the neck, spine, pelvis or in the tendons or ligaments that are attached to the spine.

7) Eye Problems
Psoriatic arthritis can cause inflammation of the eyes known as conjunctivitis or iritis. This can make the eyes red, painful and sensitive to light. The vision may also become blurry.

8) Fatigue
Like other autoimmune diseases, psoriatic arthritis can cause fatigue. Patients who experience physical disability, pain and psychological stress are more likely to feel fatigued.

9) Finger Deformities
Psoriatic arthritis may at times cause flexion deformity (fingers being pulled out of their normal alignment).

Treatment for psoriatic arthritis can help relieve pain and reduce swelling that will improve mobility and possibly prevent further joint damage. Doctors will recommend treatment based on the type of psoriatic arthritis, its severity and your response to a specific treatment protocol.

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