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Most Telltale Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis

4 min read

By Katherine George

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects individuals living with psoriasis, causing joint inflammation and discomfort. This article explores the telltale signs of psoriatic arthritis, enabling people to better understand and identify the key indicators leading to early diagnosis and effective management of the condition. To learn more about this condition and how to manage it, continue searching online before consulting a doctor.

Joint Pain and Stiffness

One of the most common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis is joint inflammation which results in pain, tenderness, and stiffness. According to Medical News Today, this stiffness is often most noticeable in the morning or immediately after resting. Plus, Healthline adds that these symptoms can manifest in a single joint or affect multiple joints simultaneously. The most commonly affected areas are knees, fingers, toes, ankles, and lower back.

Pain and stiffness symptoms may vary over time, sometimes subsiding and returning intermittently. Although Healthline warns they can also worsen at other times. When symptoms temporarily diminish, they are in remission. Conversely, symptoms that intensify are flare-ups.

Warm and Swollen Joints

Our joints play a crucial role in connecting the bones throughout the body, including the feet, ankles, knees, hips, wrists, and more. They are surrounded by soft tissues that provide cushioning to the adjacent bones, explains Healthline. However, when fluid builds up within these tissues, swelling can occur.

Joint swelling often accompanies other symptoms such as stiffness and pain. In chronic cases, the source points out that the affected digits may exhibit an irregular shape. Inflammation-induced swelling in the joints is a common symptom of psoriatic arthritis. The inflamed tissues generate heat, which can result in the affected joints feeling warm to the touch.


Individuals who have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis often experience prolonged periods of fatigue, notes Medical News Today. Fatigue is characterized by persistent tiredness that persists even after resting. According to a study conducted in 2017, fatigue ranks as the second most common symptom in individuals with psoriatic arthritis, following pain.

Multiple factors contribute to fatigue, says the source, including chronic inflammation and pain. Additionally, certain medications used to treat psoriatic arthritis can also induce fatigue.

Foot, Elbow, and Back Pain

Around 20-percent of individuals with psoriatic arthritis experience inflammation that affects the joints between their vertebrae, warns WebMD. This is known as spondylitis. This condition also leads to inflammation of the sacroiliac joint. In more severe cases, the source states that these inflamed joints can fuse together, causing limited mobility.

Pain can also occur in other areas such as the foot and elbow. Two commonly affected sites are the Achilles tendon, located between the calf muscle and heel, and the bottom of the foot. The inflammation associated with psoriatic arthritis can also result in symptoms similar to tennis elbow. WebMD describes this pain as extending from the outside of the elbow to the forearm and wrist.

Nail Changes

According to research cited by Medical News Today, a large majority of individuals with psoriatic arthritis. This research found that 80 to 90-percent of people with psoriatic arthritis experience nail changes. In comparison, only 10 to 55-percent of people with psoriasis but without arthritis have such changes. Examples of these changes are pitted or ridged nails.

Pitted nails are shallow indentations on the surface of the nail plate, which serve as a symptom in individuals with psoriatic arthritis. Medical News Today adds that these pits may appear alongside smoother sections of the nail, indicating previous periods of symptom flare-ups. Ridged nails have also been found to be indicators of joint disease, notes the source. These nail symptoms can manifest for several years before the onset of arthritic symptoms.

Eye Problems

In certain instances, individuals with psoriatic arthritis may encounter issues related to their eyes. The inflammatory process responsible for joint problems can also affect other parts of the body, says WebMD. This includes the eyes. Some common problems associated with this condition, as listed by the source are:

  • Redness: The eyes may appear red due to inflammation.
  • Irritation: Individuals may experience discomfort or itching in the eyes.
  • Conjunctivitis: This refers to the inflammation of the layer that lines the white of the eye and the inner side of the eyelid.
  • Pinkeye: Another term for conjunctivitis, characterized by redness and irritation of the eyes.
  • Disturbed vision: Vision may be affected, leading to difficulties or changes in visual perception.

Limited Range of Motion

A potential indication of psoriatic arthritis is a limited range of motion in the joints. Healthline warns that people may experience difficulty extending their arms, bending their knees, or any kind of forward flexion. Movement in the fingers may be especially problematic and can pose challenges for individuals who rely on dexterity, such as typing or drawing.

When a joint becomes permanently fixed or unable to move beyond a certain point, the source calls it contracture deformity. Healthline goes on to explain that such deformities can give rise to complications like:

  • Dupuytren’s contracture, characterized by thickening of the tissue layer beneath the skin in the hands and wrists.
  • Volkmann’s contracture, which occurs due to insufficient blood flow to the forearm, leading to muscle shortening.

Prevention of contracture deformities involves performing range of motion exercises as prescribed by a doctor or under the guidance of a physical therapist, adds the source.

Senior Managing Editor

Katherine is the Senior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat and Childhood. She is constantly striving to live a more active and healthy life, from eating healthy, exercising, and just spending more time outdoors. She enjoys cooking (with wine), walking her dog, reading, and recently joined a yoga studio!

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