Diseases Medical Encyclopedia Health Navigator Drug Interactions Drug Notes Health Capsules Smart Sites Back Pain Hip Pain Knee Pain Weight Loss Psoriatic arthritis Arthritis - psoriatic Definition Psoriatic arthritis is a joint problem (arthritis) that often occurs with a skin condition called psoriasis. Causes Psoriasis is a common skin problem that causes red patches on the body. It is an ongoing (chronic) inflammatory condition. About 1 in 20 people with psoriasis will develop arthritis with the skin condition. In most cases, psoriasis comes before the arthritis.The cause of psoriatic arthritis is not known. Genes, immune system, and environmental factors may play a role. It is likely that the skin and joint diseases have similar causes. However, they may not occur together. Symptoms The arthritis may be mild and involve only a few joints. The joints at the end of the fingers or toes may be more affected. In some people the disease may be severe and affect many joints, including the spine. Symptoms in the spine include stiffness, burning, and pain. They most often occur in the lower spine and sacrum.Most of the time, people with psoriatic arthritis have the skin and nail changes of psoriasis. Often, the skin gets worse at the same time as the arthritis. Exams and Tests During a physical exam, the health care provider will look for:Joint swellingSkin patches (psoriasis) and pitting in the nailsTenderness Joint x-rays may be done.There are no specific blood tests for psoriatic arthritis or for psoriasis, but the doctor may test for a gene called HLA-B27. Treatment Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to reduce pain and swelling of the joints.Worse arthritis will need to be treated with more powerful drugs called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These include:LeflunomideMethotrexateSulfasalazine New medicines that block an inflammatory protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) are being widely used for progressive psoriatic arthritis. These drugs include:Adalimumab (Humira)Certolizumab (Cimzia)Etanercept (Enbrel)Golimumab (Simponi)Infliximab (Remicade) Very painful joints may be injected with steroid medicines.In rare cases, surgery may be needed to repair or replace damaged joints.Your doctor may suggest a mix of rest and exercise. Physical therapy may help increase joint movement. You may also use heat and cold therapy. Outlook (Prognosis) The disease is often mild and affects only a few joints. In some people, very bad psoriatic arthritis may cause deformities in the hands, feet, and spine.Early treatment can ease pain and prevent joint damage even in very bad cases. When to Contact a Medical Professional Call your health care provider if arthritis symptoms develop along with psoriasis. Open References References Fitzgerald O. In: Psoriatic arthritis. Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, et al, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 77.Husni ME. Psoriatic arthritis. In: Carey WD, ed. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. Psoriasis, guttate on the arms and chest Illustration Psoriasis, guttate on the arms and chest This is a picture of guttate (drop-shaped) psoriasis on the arms and chest. Guttate psoriasis is a rare form of psoriasis. It frequently follows a streptococcal infection, appears rapidly and affects the face, chest, and nearest limbs. The patches are small and round or oval and have the typical appearance of psoriasis. This photograph shows the diffuse and widespread coverage on the arm and chest. Psoriasis, guttate on the cheek Illustration Psoriasis, guttate on the cheek This is a picture of guttate (drop-shaped) psoriasis on face and neck. Guttate psoriasis is a rare form of psoriasis. It frequently follows a streptococcal infection, appears rapidly and affects the face, chest, and nearest limbs. The patches are small and round or oval and have the typical appearance of psoriasis. This photograph shows the diffuse and widespread coverage on the face and neck. Tests for Psoriatic arthritis Joint x-ray HLA-B27 antigen A Closer Look Psoriasis Back pain and sciatica Related Information Arthritis Psoriasis Chronic Ankylosing spondylitis Review Date: 04/18/2014 Reviewed By: Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.