If you suffer the itchy, scaly, reddened skin of psoriasis, you’re not alone. Almost 8 million Americans are in the same boat. Psoriasis is a disease in which your immune system becomes overactive and speeds up the production of new skin cells.
When you have normal, healthy skin, your skin cells grow and shed in a monthly cycle. But with psoriasis, your skin produces new cells every 3-4 days, except that rather than shedding and falling off, those cells build up on the surface of your skin.
If you have psoriasis, you’re at risk for psoriatic arthritis (PsA), which affects your joints. Even though there’s no cure for PsA, you can learn to manage the disease’s progression and symptoms.
Our expert rheumatologists at the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey assembled this guide to help you determine if you have PsA so you can get the treatment you need. Symptoms of PsA are similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA), which we also treat.
Do you feel stiff and tired in the morning?
If your body takes a while to warm up before you can get going, you may have PsA or another form of arthritis.
Take the time to do some gentle stretches and movements in bed so that you can prime your joints. When you move your joints, they release synovial fluid, which helps them glide more smoothly.
Are your joints painful or limited in motion?
All kinds of arthritis limit your motion and may make moving your joints painful. But if you have psoriasis and also notice joint changes, contact us to find out if you’ve developed PsA.
Do your fingers and toes look like sausages?
When you have PsA, your overactive immune system creates inflammation throughout your body. Inflammation may make your fingers and toes swell so they’re difficult to move. Over time, you might develop other deformities in your fingers and toes, too.
Do your nails look strange?
Changes in fingernails and toenails usually accompany severe cases of psoriasis and could be a sign that you have PsA. The percentage of people with psoriasis who develop PsA is about the same as those who develop nail changes.
Some signs that your nails are affected by PsA include:
- Deformed nail plates
- Holes (pitting) in nail plates
- Thickened or “heavy” nails
- Nails separated from nail bed
- Yellow or brownish nails
Nail symptoms of PsA are sometimes misdiagnosed as a fungal infection or another condition. Of course, you could have nail changes related to PsA and also have a fungal infection. We may work with your dermatologist to clear your PsA-related nail changes.
Are your eyes red or painful?
A troubling symptom of PsA is uveitis, which affects your eyes and eyesight. Researchers don’t know why PsA affects the eyes, but suspect that the inflammation that causes PsA also travels to the delicate tissue in the eyes.
Contact us and your ophthalmologist right away if you notice symptoms such as:
- Chronically red eyes
- Painful eyes
- Blurry vision
- One pupil smaller than the other
- Tearing in one or both eyes
- Light sensitivity
Without treatment, PsA-related uveitis could permanently damage your eyes.
Do your feet hurt?
Another sign of PsA is pain in the heel or sole of your foot or pain in your feet while walking. Your feet have 30 joints each, all of which could be affected by PsA. The inflammation of PsA can also affect your tendons, such as the Achilles tendon that runs along the back of your heel.
Joint pain is never normal. If you have painful, stiff, or swollen joints, or more than one symptom of psoriatic arthritis, call us today. You may also request an appointment using our online tool. Our offices are located in Somerville, Flemington, and Monroe, New Jersey.