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The fact that psoriasis is classified as a skin condition is almost not enough.

Why? Because the effects of psoriasis can extend deeper than the skin, causing inflammation throughout the entire body. For example, we know that having psoriasis increases your risk of developing a number of conditions, like diabetes.1

It can even affect your joints. In fact, up to 40%2 of people with psoriasis develop a form of arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis – a painful, sometimes disabling condition that affects the joints, tendons and bones.3 And unlike osteoarthritis (the joint wear and tear that typically affects older people) psoriatic arthritis tends to strike between the ages of 35 to 45.3

This can be a real pain in the neck (and back, elbow, knee, fingers…you get the picture), but understanding the risks and knowing the signs to look out for is the first step in managing your symptoms.

Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis

So, what should you be looking out for?

Well, psoriatic arthritis can affect any of your joints, so don’t ignore any aches and pains. You may notice soreness in just one joint, or several at once. Everybody is affected differently, although we know around a quarter of people with psoriatic arthritis experience pain and stiffness in their neck or back.4 Swelling may also be visible around the joints, particularly in your fingers, while some people notice changes in their nails, such as pitting, thickening or discoloration.4 

Whatever your symptoms, don’t dismiss them. Studies show delay in treatment may lead to irreversible damage to the joints,3 so the earlier you get up, get out and walk - achy joints aside - to your doctor’s office, the better.

In fact, it’s worth speaking to your doctor even if you don’t have any symptoms. We know that sounds crazy: Why would you ask about psoriatic arthritis if you don’t even have symptoms? Because psoriatic arthritis takes - on average - 12 years to develop into actual joint issues.3 That’s a long time stay under the radar! For this reason, if you are living with psoriasis, it may be worth the pre-diagnosed ask. This gives you and your doctor plenty of time to determine your own risk and be on the lookout for warning signs.

Location is everything

Where your psoriasis affects your body also may influence your risk of developing psoriatic arthritis – in particular, the scalp and crack of the buttocks tend to be associated with increased risk.9 Similarly, if your nails are affected, fingers inflamed (a condition doctors call Dactylitis) or joints (called Enthesitis) then the chances of joint inflammation are slightly higher.3

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are close, but not that close

The severity of your psoriasis symptoms unfortunately may give no indication of how bad your psoriatic arthritis may be - if you do happen to develop it. Some people with very mild psoriasis symptoms can have severe psoriatic arthritis, and vice versa. Around a third of people who do develop psoriatic arthritis have a pretty mild form of psoriasis.5

What do you do now?

Everyone who is living with psoriasis looks at their disease differently, and it is important to understand what psoriatic arthritis is. Now that you know a little bit more about the science behind psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis relationship, it’s time to take action. During your next doctor’s visit, (if you haven’t already) start the conversation about what you can do about psoriatic arthritis - even if you don’t have symptoms. With the right plan in place, you’ll be much more prepared to take on psoriatic arthritis.


1 Psoriasis and diabetes: a population-based cross-sectional study. AD Cohen, J Dreiher, Y Shapiro, L Vidavsky, DA Vardy, B Davidovici and J Meyerovitch. Dermatology. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. Vol 22 Issue 5.

2 Mease, P. et al. Managing Patients with Psoriatic Disease: The Diagnosis and Pharmacologic Treatment of Psoriatic Arthritis in Patients with Psoriasis. Drugs 2014; 74: 423-441

3 Which Psoriasis Patients Develop Psoriatic Arthritis? Kristine Busse and Wilson Liao. Psoriasis Forum. 2010 Winter; 16(4): 17–25.

4 Atherton, M. Arthritis pain - eight warning signs of psoriatic arthritis including painful buttocks Accessed 17 July 2019.  

5 National Psoriasis Foundation, About Psoriasis. Accessed 17 July 2019

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