In Part 1 of my 3-part series on psoriatic arthritis we looked at the disease itself, and some of its risk factors. Now in Part 2 I want to discuss the symptoms that indicate when a person who already suffers from the skin condition psoriasis might be heading toward psoriatic arthritis.
As Dr. Elaine Husni, vice chair of the Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases at the Cleveland Clinic, explained: “The most important thing for these patients is early recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease.”
Watch for these symptoms:
- Painful Hands and Fingers. Since any type of arthritis attacks the joints, especially of the hands and fingers, pain and discomfort in these joints can be the first signal that the psoriasis is beginning to cause psoriatic arthritis. Stiff, painful joints that are also red, and warm to the touch, can be misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The presence of psoriasis, even if it is a very mild case, will lead to the proper diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis.
- Painful Joints. Unlike some other types of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis will almost always eventually involve larger joints such as the knees and ankles. This can be asymmetrical, however, causing one knee to hurt when the other one is pain free.
- Fingernail and Toenail Pitting. Nail changes are specific to psoriatic arthritis. If the nails become discolored, pitted, or even fall off, it’s a clear indication of developing psoriatic arthritis.
- Eye Problems. Although other conditions such as RA can cause changes in the eye, Inflammation such as conjunctivitis or iritis, along with blurred vision, redness, discomfort, or a sensitivity to light, in the presence of psoriasis, can be an indication of psoriatic arthritis.
- Back Problems. Obviously back discomfort can be caused by something as simple as a pulled muscle. However, in the presence of psoriasis any on-going or chronic back pain, or stiffness in the neck, spine or pelvis, can be an indication that psoriatic arthritis is developing. In 5% of people diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, back pain (in addition to the presence of psoriasis) is the only symptom.
In Part 3 of this series we’ll take a look at some people who were diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis and how they coped. Meanwhile, remember that whenever any kind of joint pain or swollen fingers make it difficult to hold a writing utensil, the ergonomic UGLee Pen will allow writing that is comfortable, and even relaxing.