Content in this special section was created or selected by the Everyday Health editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to Everyday Health’s editorial standards for accuracy, objectivity, and balance. The sponsor does not edit or influence the content but may suggest the general topic area.
6 Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
- By Diana Rodriguez
- Reviewed by Ross Radusky, MD
Psoriatic Arthritis Complications Affect More Than Your Joints
The inflammation that causes joint problems in psoriatic arthritis can also wreak havoc on the rest of your body, which may come as a surprise to many people living with the condition. Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues — specifically targeting the joints, which leads to inflammation and pain. Psoriatic arthritis may come on slowly with mild symptoms or develop quickly with moderate to severe problems. “The progression of psoriatic arthritis is somewhat unpredictable, and some people don’t progress while others develop bony enlargements, pain, and even deformities,” says rheumatologist Yousaf Ali, MD , an associate professor of medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.Without treatment, joint pain and stiffness can worsen, along with other serious health issues, says Samardeep Gupta, MBBS , a rheumatologist and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis typically include joint pain, swollen fingers and toes, and pain in the feet, neck, or back. The pain can be particularly bad after periods of rest or sleep.The disease can lead to serious, even permanent joint damage. One of the more severe complications is a relatively rare form of psoriatic arthritis known as arthritis mutilans . That condition, which usually attacks the small bones in the hands and fingers, can lead to deformity and disability.But other possible complications of psoriatic arthritis can involve more than your joints. The long-term effects of the disease can affect your heart, eyes, and digestive tract. The condition can also exact a toll on your emotional health: People with psoriatic arthritis often struggle with emotional distress that they don’t feel prepared to deal with, according to a study published in March 2016 in the journal Rheumatology.People with psoriatic disease are at a greater risk for developing a form of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease; certain types of cancer, such as lymphoma; a liver condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; and type 2 diabetes.Other common side effects include anemia, fatigue, and depression. Patients may also experience high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and they are at risk of developing diabetes or weight-control problems.Besides managing their psoriatic arthritis symptoms, patients need to be proactive and report any other signs or symptoms to their doctor. Early detection and treatment can be critical.Protect your health by learning how to recognize these early signs of psoriatic arthritis complications.
Changes in Your Vision or Other Eye Issues
Any pain, redness, blurry vision, or sensitivity to light can be a major red flag. These are symptoms of uveitis, an eye condition caused by inflammation that affects about 7 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF). It occurs when the internal structures of the eye become inflamed, Dr. Gupta says, and it may result in loss of vision. Psoriatic arthritis can also increase your chance of developing cataracts and glaucoma , both of which can cause blurry vision and, in the case of glaucoma, could lead to permanent vision loss. Don’t wait for a problem to appear. Schedule regular eye exams to help preserve vision and identify any issues as soon as possible.
Fatigue: A Common Problem That Can Worsen Pain
Up to 57 percent of people with an inflammatory rheumatic disease like psoriatic arthritis experience severe fatigue , according to a study published in the February 2016 issue of Clinical Rheumatology. “Psoriatic arthritis is a systemic inflammatory condition,” Gupta says. “When left untreated, it can result in fatigue and a general feeling of sickness. It can also result in anemia due to prolonged inflammation .” Unchecked fatigue can worsen your pain and vice versa, so talk to your doctor about adding pain management and sleep strategies to your psoriatic arthritis treatment plan.
Cardiovascular Warning Signs: Chest Pain, Weakness
People with psoriatic arthritis are at a 43 percent greater risk for stroke and a 58 percent greater risk for a serious cardiovascular problem, such as a heart attack , according to the NPF . Know the warning signs of a heart attack, which include discomfort or pain in the chest, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, or pain in the upper body, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . Stroke warning signs include slackness on one side of the face, arm weakness (usually just on one side), and difficulty speaking, the National Stroke Association notes.
Depression: A Sadness You Can’t Shake
Persistent sadness or hopelessness, withdrawing from your circle of friends, and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed are potential symptoms of depression . “Signs of depression are common in people with psoriatic arthritis due to social withdrawal due to skin lesions and inability to do the tasks they were previously able to do,” Gupta says. He notes, however, that the severity of the disease isn’t necessarily related to your risk of developing depression or another mental health issue. But if your psoriatic arthritis is well controlled, it may help symptoms of depression. If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor. Treatment is available.
Crohn’s Disease and Other Digestive Problems
Symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramping, blood in your stool, and diarrhea could signal an inflammatory bowel disease . People with both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are at risk for developing Crohn’s in particular, according to a study published in the July 2013 issue of Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. This is likely because the mutations in the genes of people with both psoriatic arthritis and Crohn’s disease are similar. So if you struggle with digestive issues, visit your doctor for an evaluation.
- Media Bakery
Weight Gain or Changes in Appetite and Thirst
Psoriatic arthritis increases your risk for metabolic syndrome and for type 2 diabetes . Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions that include high blood pressure, heart disease, and belly fat. The more severe your psoriatic arthritis, the greater your risk for metabolic syndrome. Get your blood pressure checked regularly and work with your doctor to lose weight, especially if you’re carrying extra pounds around your middle. Also see your doctor right away if you experience telltale signs of type 2 diabetes, such as feeling constantly hungry or thirsty or very fatigued.