Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that can affect as many as 30 percent of people with psoriasis. Psoriasis is a condition that affects the skin, causing dry, scaly patches.

Psoriatic arthritis typically develops later but can have a much deeper impact on your body. Keep reading to learn about the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and the risk factors for developing it.

Like other forms of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis affects your joints, causing stiffness and pain. Each type of arthritis has different features, and psoriatic arthritis symptoms include:

  • inflammation
  • pain
  • redness
  • warmth
  • swelling
  • stiffness, especially in the morning
  • cracking or pitting of the fingernails and toenails
  • nails that separate from the nail bed
  • swelling where tendons and ligaments attach to bone, like on the heel
  • fatigue
  • back pain
  • redness and pain in the eye

Where symptoms typically occur

Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can strike large or small joints, but are most common in:

  • the joints of the fingers and toes that are closest to the nail
  • wrists
  • ankles
  • knees

How long symptoms last

Symptoms can come and go. They usually come in the form of flare-ups that can last for weeks and then disappear for long periods of time. Psoriatic arthritis might affect one or many joints at a time during a flare-up.

The main risk factor for psoriatic arthritis is having psoriasis, but some people may develop this type of arthritis before ever developing any skin lesions. Overall risk factors include:

  • a family history of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis
  • immune disorders
  • injuries
  • infection
  • obesity
  • stress

For people with psoriasis who end up developing psoriatic arthritis, it typically begins roughly 10 years after psoriasis appears. There doesn’t appear to be any link between how severe your psoriasis is and how severe your psoriatic arthritis may be.

Psoriatic arthritis is usually diagnosed by a rheumatologist. It’s important to seek diagnosis early if you suspect you have this condition. Early diagnosis and management can keep you from developing more severe complications like:

  • severe joint damage
  • damage to other organs, like the stomach and lungs
  • weakened bones
  • deterioration of blood vessels and heart muscle

While there’s no cure for psoriatic arthritis, symptoms can be managed with medications and therapy.