(Top 8) Early Signs Of Psoriatic Arthritis

8 Early Signs Of Psoriatic Arthritis

Has psoriatic arthritis just crossed your mind? Are you afraid it might be the cause of your symptoms?

Well, here are the top 8 early signs of psoriatic arthritis.

This can be a very tricky condition – because its symptoms are very different of the other forms of arthritis. 

So if you think this could be your real diagnosis, the next lines will help you out. If it’s psoriatic arthritis behind your pain, you will definitely find your symptoms on the list. 


#1 – Psoriasis

You surely know those red patches that appear in certain parts of your body. Well, they may be the first sign of psoriatic arthritis.

8 Early Signs Of Psoriatic Arthritis

You can’t really have psoriatic arthritis without having psoriasis. That’s a fact. But surprisingly, less than  10% of people with this disease develop arthritis before developing psoriasis.

So is it possible? Yes – but:

  • it’s very rare
  • in most cases, psoriasis is the very first PsA symptom

However, having psoriasis doesn’t mean you will develop psoriatic arthritis too.

Only about 1/3 of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis at one point in their lives. So in most cases, psoriasis remains psoriasis.

Even so, arthritis can appear even 20 years after the psoriasis symptoms. It’s all a matter of luck, after all. You can’t do anything to prevent this condition.


#2 – Typical Swelling

Just like in most types of arthritis, inflammation is present. But there’s one difference – it doesn’t come in the same form.

If you have psoriatic arthritis, you will notice your fingers or toes get the shape of a sausage when inflamed.

This kind of inflammation doesn’t appear in any other forms of arthritis. That’s why it’s so easy to recognize.

Usually, this sausage swelling appears before the real joint pain:

  • you toes or fingers simply get swollen
  • there’s no feeling or any pain

Obviously, this swelling is extremely unpleasant – because your skin gets red and warm and moving around gets harder.

But even though it doesn’t hurt, it’s essential to treat the inflammation. Otherwise your fingers can get deformed or damaged. 


#3 – Joint & Muscular Pain

If you’re dealing with psoriatic arthritis, you can expect a lot of muscular and tendon problems.

8 Early Signs Of Psoriatic Arthritis

What’s interesting is that the legs are usually the most affected parts.

Have you heard of tendinitis? Well, it’s pretty common in psoriatic arthritis:

  • your leg tendons get inflamed much easier than they should
  • you may also experience muscular pain without much physical effort

Unfortunately, you can’t really control this symptom or do anything to prevent tendinitis.

It’s recommended to pay extra attention with exercising, but tendons can get swollen even without any physical activity.

In this case, anti-inflammatory remain the best solution.


#4 – Eye Infections

What many people don’t know is that psoriatic arthritis can also affect the eyes.

Just like with the joints – this condition can also produce inflammation in your eyes.

  • at first it’s just a burning sensation or a minor pain
  • it’s essential not to let the disease progress
  • otherwise, it can cause conjunctivitis pretty often
  • in worse cases, repeated infections can make your eyes drier
  • at one point you can even develop glaucoma

So there’s no joke when it comes to the eyes.

Fortunately, eye pain or infections aren’t the very first sign of psoriatic arthritis.

They may appear from the beginning – but it’s usually the joint pain and the psoriatic rash first.

However – once you notice any eye problems, don’t let them untreated. They can cause you bigger problems than you think.


#5 – Stiffness

If you are an arthritis sufferer – you surely have a long history of morning stiffness. No matter what form you have, you must have experienced this symptom.

Well, sometimes stiffness appears long before the real joint pain. And in most cases, people never take it for real.

You can wake up every morning with stiff joints and think it’s normal. That especially if you’re an older person. 

However, when your stiffness is caused by arthritis, it should last for about an hour.

If you move around, you should feel better, but the stiffness won’t go away completely.

On the other hand, if it lasts for just a few minutes, it’s surely not arthritis. It may be a bad sleeping position or the effects of a workout, but it’s surely not arthritis.


#6 – Nail Changes

This is a very clear sign of psoriatic arthritis, because it doesn’t appear in any other form of arthritis:

  • 8 Early Signs Of Psoriatic Arthritisyour nails start getting dark spots 
  • they can start separating from the nailbed

Obviously, this doesn’t happen overnight – but you can see some gradual changes and damage in your nails.

In most cases, it’s the toe nails that change, but I’ve seen a lot of people with finger nail problems. 

The nails look just like in fungal infections, but obviously – antifungal creams are absolutely useless.

So who would think at psoriatic arthritis just because of some damaged nails? Probably no one.

For this reason, if you already have psoriasis or a chronic joint pain, this might be an additional sign of your real diagnosis.


#7 – Lower Back Pain

If you also experienced back pain recently, you surely didn’t think about psoriatic arthritis. Am I right? 

Well, this condition can lead to a complication called spondylitis. This is a disease itself, but having psoriatic arthritis increases the risk of getting spondylitis as well.

If you have spondylitis – you have inflammation in several parts of your back.

However, it’s between the vertebrae that bothers most of all.

As there’s inflammation, every time you make a small movement, you will be in pain.

What’s interesting is that the most affected vertebrae are the lower ones (because of their shape). That’s why the worst pain appears in your lower back.


#8 – Exhaustion

It’s normal to be tired when you’re sick, but what happens if you feel tired for weeks? That even though you rest a lot throughout the day.

Exhaustion is a typical symptom of psoriatic arthritis, and it’s even more pronounced than it other forms of arthritis.

The terrible pain, morning stiffness and inflammation are usually its causes. Sometimes even the prescribed medications can produce fatigue as a side effect.

It’s hard to diagnose this condition based only on this symptom, but it can be a helpful sign.

Most psoriatic arthritis patients deal with extreme exhaustion after daily activities – so it’s surely not a normal fatigue.



So Could It Be Psoriatic Arthritis?

If you have 3 or more than these symptoms, your diagnosis may not be just psoriasis.

In general, psoriatic arthritis comes with gradual joint pain and nail deformities. All the other symptoms I mentioned may or may not appear – but these 3 are almost always present.

Therefore, if you believe your psoriasis may be turning into a psoriatic arthritis, talk to your doctor.

This condition is more severe, but you can keep it under control if it’s diagnosed early. You may be lucky and not have psoriatic arthritis at all, but it’s better to be sure.

So what exact symptoms do you have? Do you think it’s psoriatic arthritis causing them? Let me know your answer in a comment and I will reach out to you with advice.

Heather Pharm.D.

Heather Tracy Foley is a Pharmacy graduate, Blogger and Author with a vast experience in health sciences. She has a particular interest in joint pain and rheumatology and spent several years studying health problems. You can find her on Pinterest or via email.

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2 Responses

  1. Greta Martinez says:

    Hi Heather. I’ve got psoriasis for a very long time, maybe 15-20 years. I never had any joint problems of any type, but I lately started getting some back pain. At first I thought it was because of pregnancy but it continues even after giving birth. Now it’s been almost 2 months and my back is still hurting.

    Do you think I could be developing psoriatic arthritis? My psoriasis was getting much better during pregnancy and it’s still not bothering me now. So could I be developing arthritis even if my psoriasis is going away?

    I’m really desperate and I don’t know what to do. I made an appointment to my MD but he was only free next week and I can’t wait until then, I have to find out. I really hope you can help me because you seem to understand a lot of things I don’t. Thanks, Greta

  2. Heather says:

    Hey there Greta. From what you’re telling me, it’s not psoriatic arthritis but a form of chronic back pain that appeared because of pregnancy.

    Now, I can’t tell for sure, but here are my arguments:
    1. Joint pain is quite common in pregnancy, because hormones loosens your joints (but sometimes they do it too much). In some cases, it can also continue after pregnancy.
    2. You didn’t mention other symptoms than your back pain. This makes me think you don’t have any swelling or nail changes, which are major symptoms of PA.
    3. If your psoriasis is getting better, it’s very unlikely that you develop PA in the meantime. But pregnancy usually decreases psoriasis, so it will probably come back pretty soon.

    So don’t worry too much and wait for your doctor’s opinion. But if you ask me, I don’t think it’s psoriatic arthritis but simply chronic pain. Hope this helps you.

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