Psoriasis is a common skin
condition associated with red, thick, scaly skin typically seen on the
scalp and extremities. The skin disease usually is seen on an average of
ten years before the arthritis begins. Sometimes the joint disease
occurs first but rarely do both the joint and skin symptoms occur at the
same time. About a third of the patients who have psoriasis of the skin
can develop "Psoriatic Arthritis".
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an autoimmune disease in which there is
pain and swelling of the joints and typically occurs in the spine and
where tendons attach to bone. There are different ways that PsA can
present. Some may have back pain, others may have swelling of one knee,
swelling of an entire digit called a "sausage digit" and yet others may
present with multiple affected joints resembling rheumatoid arthritis.
Multiple pits in the nails may also be a clue to the diagnosis. Family
history can increase a person's chance of getting the disease.
Left untreated, PsA can cause a crippling and deforming arthritis.
Fortunately, effective treatment is available to treat both the
psoriasis and the arthritis.
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