Psoriatic Arthritis



Psoriatic arthritis is caused by a problem with the immune system. It starts to attack healthy tissue. It is not known why this happens. Genes and the environment may play a role.

Risk Factors

This problem is most common in people who are 30 to 50 years of age. It is also more common in people who have psoriasis. But not everyone with psoriasis will get this problem.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Having other family members with this problem
  • Certain genetic factors
  • Recent trauma, such as a joint injury



A person with psoriatic arthritis may have:

  • Pain and swelling in one or more joints or over tendons
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Red or warm joints
  • Swelling of the fingers or toes
  • Nail changes, such as pitting, crumbling, or separating from the nail bed
  • Back pain
  • Lack of energy
  • Eye redness and pain


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Blood tests will be done to rule out rheumatoid arthritis.

Images of the joints may be taken to confirm psoriatic arthritis. This can be done with:

  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI scan



The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and slow joint damage. There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis. Ways to treat it are:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as having a healthy weight and working out often
  • Medicines to ease pain and swelling, such as:
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Steroid medicine
    • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
    • Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors

Surgery may be needed if other methods do not help. It may be done to fix or replace a damaged joint.


Psoriatic arthritis cannot always be prevented. Some treatments for psoriasis may help keep psoriatic arthritis from happening.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.