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What is Psoriatic Arthritis? | Find Your Stride | Edinburgh Podiatrist

I've seen a few patients with psoriatic arthritis recently, so here's a blog post on this troublesome condition. Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that primarily affects the joints and skin. It is a type of inflammatory arthritis that occurs in people with psoriasis, a skin condition characterised by red, scaly patches. The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown as it differs for each person, however it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.


Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint in the body, but it most commonly affects the fingers, toes, wrists, knees, and spine. The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can vary from person to person and may include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and redness, as well as skin symptoms such as patches of red, scaly skin. In some cases, psoriatic arthritis can also cause inflammation in other parts of the body, such as the eyes, heart, and lungs.


People with psoriasis are more likely to suffer with psoriatic arthritis
Psoriasis seen here on the medial aspect of the foot

Diagnosing psoriatic arthritis can be challenging because its symptoms often resemble those of other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Furthermore, not all people with psoriatic arthritis have visible skin symptoms of psoriasis. As a result, healthcare providers may use a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests to confirm a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis.


One of the key components of diagnosing psoriatic arthritis is obtaining a thorough medical history. During this part of the diagnostic process, the healthcare provider will ask the patient about their symptoms, including any joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, as well as any history of psoriasis or other autoimmune conditions. Additionally, the healthcare provider may inquire about any family history of psoriatic arthritis, as genetics play a role in the development of the condition.


In addition to a medical history, a physical examination is an essential part of the diagnostic process for psoriatic arthritis. During the physical examination, the healthcare provider will evaluate the patient's joints for tenderness, swelling, and limited range of motion. They will also examine the patient's skin for any signs of psoriasis, such as red, scaly patches.


Once the medical history and physical examination are complete, the healthcare provider may order specific diagnostic tests to confirm a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. One of the most commonly used tests is bloodwork, which can help detect inflammation and rule out other types of arthritis. This may include tests for inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), as well as tests for rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies.


Imaging tests, such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, may also be used to assess joint damage and inflammation associated with psoriatic arthritis. X-rays can reveal changes in the joints, such as bone erosion and new bone formation, while MRI scans can provide detailed images of soft tissues and joints affected by psoriatic arthritis.

In some cases, healthcare providers may also perform joint aspiration, a procedure in which a small sample of fluid is removed from an affected joint and analyzed for signs of inflammation and other markers of psoriatic arthritis.


In conclusion, psoriatic arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the joints and skin. Diagnosing psoriatic arthritis involves obtaining a thorough medical history, conducting a physical examination, and performing diagnostic tests such as bloodwork and imaging. While the process of diagnosing psoriatic arthritis can be complex, a prompt and accurate diagnosis is essential for initiating appropriate treatment and managing the symptoms of this condition. If you would like to read more about psoriatic arthritis, versus arthritis is an excellent website containing lots of helpful information.


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