Joint pain and skin plaques may be symptoms of the same psoriatic condition affecting different parts of the body
To understand the connection between joint pain and skin plaques, and the role the immune system plays in both, we’ve enlisted Dr. Elizabeth Perkins for help.
“It really starts with how we look at the immune system. You basically have different cytokines, or molecules, circulating throughout the body. But in autoimmune diseases, those cytokines can be out of balance.
In our healthy state, that balance is nice and orchestrated—think of it like musical instruments. Everything sounds just right. But when we're sick, like in states like psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, those cytokines get turned on and overproduce. They get very noisy. That overproduction of cytokines causes inflammation, and can be felt as joint pain in psoriatic arthritis, and skin plaques in psoriasis.”
—Dr. Elizabeth Perkins, a Practicing Rheumatologist
Here’s some more helpful information about the connection between psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and plaque psoriasis (PsO):
In about 85% of people, skin symptoms occur prior to joint disease.
PsA tends to affect people between the ages of 30 and 55, but can occur earlier or later.
In most cases, PsA symptoms usually start about 10 years after PsO symptoms.
Approximately 40% of people diagnosed with PsA have a close family member who has been diagnosed with PsO or PsA.
Men and women are equally at risk of developing PsA
Psoriatic arthritis is often confused with other forms of arthritis
Occurs when cartilage in the joints begins to break down
Symmetrical pain and swelling occurs on both sides of the body (eg, first finger of each hand, both knees, both big toes, etc)
The main differences between PsA and RA include:
PsA joint pain is asymmetrical, meaning joint pain doesn’t always affect both sides of the body.
RA inflammation is peripheral—meaning it is more likely to affect the wrists, shoulders, knees, and ankles—and does not typically involve the spine.
Enthesitis and dactylitis are hallmarks of PsA, but these are not usually present in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
“I had psoriatic arthritis symptoms for a long time before I developed psoriasis.”
—Dan, Actual Patient
Individual results may vary. Dan was compensated for his time.
“My symptoms started very early in my life, probably when I was around 25 years old.”
—Jorge, Actual Patient
Individual results may vary. Jorge was compensated for his time.