What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis in which the lining of the joint gets inflamed and swollen, causing the joint to become loose or crooked. Psoriatic arthritis is not the same as psoriasis, which is a skin condition that causes skin to become dry, red, and flaky on any part of the body. However, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, up to 30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, so there is a link between the two.

Psoriatic arthritis, which is common in the hands, may cause your bones to lose their shape due to the smooth ends of the bones wearing out. This condition affects men and women equally. Some symptoms may include:

  • Red and swollen joints
  • Joints that sometimes feel warm
  • Decreased joint motion and stiff-feeling joints
  • Pitting, ridging or crumbling fingernails
  • Deformed end of finger

These symptoms are similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis; however, with psoriatic arthritis, the swelling may affect the whole finger rather than the middle joint. If you have psoriatic arthritis, you may not feel these symptoms in both hands. In fact, it can be difficult to tell if you have this specific condition because the symptoms are so similar to other types of arthritis.

In order to determine if you have psoriatic arthritis, visit a hand surgeon. The surgeon will examine and feel your hand, as well as take an x-ray. If you have psoriatic arthritis, the x-ray may show swelling around the bone, narrowing space between bones, or bones that are fused together. He/she may also perform other tests.

If you have psoriatic arthritis, there are medications that will help lessen the swelling, redness, and pain to keep the hands functioning as well as possible, but there is no cure for this condition. You may also work with a hand therapist to help with your function. Surgery is also an option, depending on your specific case. Visit a hand surgeon to determine the best course of action.

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