The Early Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis
Joint pain can become increasingly common as you age – but sometimes, the pain you’re feeling is so much more than just normal aches and searing pain. If your joint pain is chronic, you could have a serious health condition, like psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory disease, and it causes chronic pain in the joints and anywhere tendons and ligaments connect to the bone. This disease can strike at any age, often appearing between the ages of 30 and 50 years old¹. And when psoriatic arthritis appears, there is no cure.
Fortunately, if psoriatic arthritis is caught and diagnosed early, you can choose from an ever-increasing range of treatment options that can stop the disease from growing worse, soothe your pain, and protect your joints. Permanent joint damage from psoriatic arthritis can occur in as few as six months² – so early detection is crucial in protecting your body and relieving symptoms.
Make sure you’re aware of the early signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis so you can spot this condition as soon as possible if it occurs. It’s important to be aware of the following changes, all of which could be signs of psoriatic arthritis.
Joint Pain and Stiffness
One of the hallmark signs of psoriatic arthritis is joint pain. And that joint pain can be accompanied by stiffness or difficulty moving your joints.
Whether you’re feeling pain in just one joint or multiple joints, you’ll want to pay close attention. Psoriatic arthritis causes inflammation in the joints³, which can leave the areas around your joints feeling tender and stiff. And that pain, tenderness, and stiffness can come and go.
While keeping a close eye on your joints, make sure to note whether or not there’s any swelling in your joints. From your fingers to your knees, swelling can accompany joint pain and stiffness when psoriatic arthritis is occurring in the body.
When looking for swelling, you’ll want to pay close attention to your fingers and toes. A unique hallmark of psoriatic arthritis is swollen fingers and toes – and the fingers and toes tend to swell up like sausages. Your entire finger or toe will swell up if it’s psoriatic arthritis, rather than around just the joints themselves.
Inflammation can cause swelling and also may produce heat⁴ in the tissue around your joints. So, if you notice your joints are puffy and feel warm to the touch, that’s cause for alarm and a potential early sign of psoriatic arthritis.
Changes in Your Nails
You’ll also want to look for any changes happening with your fingernails or toenails. One symptom of psoriatic arthritis is completely different nail behavior – your nails might become infected, change in texture, or even come off of your nail beds.
Common nail changes are pitting, which makes nails look bumpy and dented. Your nails can also separate, or fall off your fingers and toes. If your nails are suddenly changing color and texture, notify your doctor.
Changes in your nails like these are important to note because they’re unique signs of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis⁵. Noticing any pitting, splitting, or infections can be key to helping your doctor determine if psoriatic arthritis is the cause.
Pain in Specific Areas of the Body
In addition to the aches and pains you might be feeling in your joints, psoriatic arthritis can cause other pain. And that pain can happen at specific points on the body.
You’ll want to note if you experience pain in any of the following areas:
- Your lower back – psoriatic arthritis can cause swelling in the spinal joints and pelvis.
- Your feet – because psoriatic arthritis can cause pain around tendons, foot pain, swelling, and tenderness is common around the ankle and bottom of the foot.
- Your elbow – psoriatic arthritis can cause symptoms similar to tennis elbow, giving you pain, tenderness, and stiffness in the elbow joint.
Although all kinds of arthritis affect the joints more than other areas of the body, psoriatic arthritis can cause some unusual and unexpected symptoms in your eyes. The disease can cause inflammation and redness in the eyes, which might not be immediately noticeable or something you think to connect with psoriatic arthritis.
However, if you’re noticing irritation, pain, or redness in one or both of your eyes, it could be a sign of psoriatic arthritis. Irritation that’s similar to the symptoms of conjunctivitis (pink eye), as well as changes or disruptions in your vision, should be something you pay close attention to⁶.
If you’re feeling tired and too exhausted to accomplish even small tasks, you might be suffering from fatigue. And fatigue is another potential early sign of psoriatic arthritis. It’s a common symptom of many health conditions, which is why it’s an important one to note.
Fatigue can make you feel tired even if you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep. It can leave you feeling tired just hours after waking up, make it difficult to get through the day without taking a nap, and cause you to sleep for longer amounts of time. Fatigue can cause you to feel like no amount of sleep is enough to get you well rested.
Pay Attention to All of These Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis
Now that you’re aware of some of the common early signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, you’re better prepared to catch this disease if it should begin to appear in your very own body.
While some of these symptoms may seem like they hint at other health conditions, or perhaps aren’t serious when they first appear, it’s important to stay on top of your health. Remember, as psoriatic arthritis progresses, it can cause increasingly worse symptoms – and it can ultimately leave lasting damage within your joints.