What Is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Category: Physical Therapy

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is one of the more common types of arthritis. It affects up to 26 percent of people who have psoriasis, which is a chronic skin condition that causes scaly patches on the skin and joints. 

The two conditions frequently go hand in hand. Unlike other forms of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease so it attacks healthy cells and can be difficult to diagnose. 

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

PsA is an inflammatory disease in which the immune system attacks the cells in the body that build new tissue, resulting in joint pain and other symptoms, including dry, scaly skin and nail changes.

PsA occurs when a person has both psoriasis (a skin condition marked by red, flaky patches) and joint inflammation. A study published in 2014 found that up to 26% of people with psoriasis have PsA. The risk of developing PsA increases with age, especially after age 50; however, it can occur at any age from childhood to adulthood.

One of the biggest difficulties with psoriatic arthritis is that its symptoms are often attributed to other conditions. Patients may not realize their joint pain or swelling has an autoimmune origin until they’ve seen several doctors and specialists

Since many people with psoriasis don’t develop joint pain, a dermatologist will be less likely to take a patient’s arthritic symptoms seriously. This means patients may have to see rheumatologists for a proper diagnosis. 

Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • Painful swelling of fingers or toes
  • Inflammation of the digestive tract
  • Changes in nails, such as denting or crumbling
  • Back pain
  • Foot pain

Treatment Options for Psoriatic Arthritis

There is currently no cure for psoriatic arthritis, but with proper treatment, it can be controlled. Treatments for psoriatic arthritis often have to be individualized. The goal of treatment is to prevent joint damage while also keeping your symptoms under control. Two main treatment options consist of medication and lifestyle.


Medications can include:

  • Pain relievers (anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen)
  • Drugs that decrease swelling (corticosteroids)
  • Medications that suppress your immune system’s inflammatory response (immunosuppressants)


Additionally, exercise may help you manage your symptoms. Even when symptoms are completely manageable with medications and treatments, many people choose to live a healthy lifestyle by increasing their intake of anti-inflammatory foods such as green tea, avocados and turmeric.

What is the Difference Between Psoriatic Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease that attacks the tissue around your joints, while PsA damages your skin in addition to your joints. Furthermore, RA typically affects joints symmetrically (both knees for example), while psoriasis itself does not discriminate with regard to affected areas. 

A person with both types of arthritis may develop either condition at any time; having one does not protect a person from developing another. Other differences between these two diseases include symptoms, such as pain or joint deformity, treatments and prognosis (expected outcome). Generally speaking, although there are many similarities between RA and PsA, they are two different diseases.

Risk Factors and Prevention of Psoriatic Arthritis

The main risk factor for psoriatic arthritis is for those who have psoriasis. Studies show that anywhere from 7 – 26% of psoriasis patients will develop psoriatic arthritis. The risk of developing the disease also seems to increase with age.

Another risk factor is obesity. Body mass index (BMI) has been found to be directly linked to the onset of psoriatic arthritis. However, many researchers also believe that it’s a genetic disorder. In other words, if a person is prone to it, he or she may be able to sidestep the disease with a healthy lifestyle, but there’s no guarantee.

Diet Plan for Psoriatic Arthritis Patient

A diet for psoriatic arthritis patients should include vitamins and healthy foods that are helpful in reducing inflammation of joints and anti-arthritic medicines. 

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits like grapes, oranges and cherries are good for arthritis patients. Blueberries and spinach can reduce joint pain caused by RA symptoms effectively. This is because they contain antioxidants and Vitamin C and E that help increase strength and improve muscle health. 
  • Omega- 3. Omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and olive oil.
  • Spices. Spices like turmeric are very useful as they help in the digestion of food. It can be sprinkled lightly on foods like fish to help with symptoms. 
  • Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also essential in the treatment of psoriatic arthritis, so spending time in the sun and eating foods that contain it are helpful activities. Foods like eggs and yogurt contain plenty of vitamin D and should be eaten regularly.

Do You Have the Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis?

While a cure hasn’t been found for psoriatic arthritis, early detection and treatment are vital. If you have psoriatic arthritis symptoms or suspect you might have it, keep a list of your symptoms to give to your health care provider. 

If you or a loved one suffers from psoriatic arthritis, treatment can greatly reduce your pain and suffering from the disease. The caring team at Haven Health has treatment options available. Contact us today for more information.


Busse, K. et al. (2014) Which Psoriasis Patients Develop Psoriatic Arthritis? National Library of Medicine..

Psoriatic Arthritis. Mayo Clinic.

Abdelnour Gilman, S. (6 July 2021) Food Rx: A Pain Expert Shares the Ultimate Diet for Psoriatic Arthritis. Everyday Health.  

What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.