Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition that occurs in people with a skin condition called psoriasis, which results in scaly patches on the skin, or in those with relatives who have psoriasis. Approximately 40 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis have a family history of psoriasis or another joint condition. Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint in the body, and may affect one or more joint at a time. Symptoms vary from person to person, and may come and go. Over time, psoriatic arthritis can lead to joint damage so it is important that the condition is diagnosed as early as possible.
Diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis is made based on the person’s medical history, physical exam (e.g., swollen, painful joints), and laboratory tests to exclude other types of rheumatic disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis. X-rays may be used to assess the joints for damage, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, or computerized tomography (CT) may also be used if more detailed images are needed.
Treatment of psoriatic arthritis depends on the level of pain the person is experiencing. Those with mild symptoms may need treatment only when they are having a flare-up and may stop treatment when their symptoms resolve. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used for initial treatment. If needed, stronger medications known as disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs may be used. These include sulfasalazine, methotrexate, and cyclosporine. Physical therapy can also be used to improve mobility.