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Psoriatic arthritis: Symptoms


How to recognize psoriatic arthritis

For most people, psoriatic arthritis develops years after psoriasis. Tell your dermatologist if you have psoriasis and any of these signs and symptoms:

  • A very noticeable swollen finger or toe

  • Swollen and tender joints

  • Stiffness when you wake up or sit for hours; stiffness fades as you move

  • Nails that are pitted

  • Nail separating from nail bed

  • Lower back pain

  • Heel pain

  • Swelling on the back of your leg above your heel

Psoriatic nails

People who get psoriatic arthritis often see nail pitting (shown here) or a nail separating from the nail bed.

Psoriatic arthritis nails

Swollen joint, left knee

One of the first signs of psoriatic arthritis is often a swollen joint, most commonly in a hand, foot, or knee.

Psoriatic knees

Swollen tendon

A swollen and painful Achilles tendon, shown here on the right leg, is often a sign of psoriatic arthritis.

Swollen Achilles tendon with psoriatic arthriti

Sausage digit

Psoriatic arthritis can cause a finger or toe to swell dramatically. The swollen finger or toe is called a sausage digit.

Psoriatic arthritis can cause a finger or toe to swell dramatically. Called sausage digit

Heel pain

Some people who have psoriatic arthritis develop intense heel pain. This pain can make walking difficult.

Heels with psoriatic arthritis

Joint destruction

In some people, psoriatic arthritis destroys the joints. Early treatment helps prevent this.

Joint destruction from psoriatic arthritis

Stiff joints

Stiffness is a common symptom. It happens when you wake up or sit still for hours. The stiffness disappears as you move, but it can last 30 to 45 minutes or longer.

Person rubbing stiff shoulder

Swollen joints

When joints swell, they may feel tender or painful, but not always.

Swollen psoriatic arthritis foot

Images (in order of appearance) used with permission of:

  • The American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

  • J Am Acad Dermatol 2010;63:733-48.

  • J Am Acad Dermatol 2008;58:851-64.

  • J Am Acad Dermatol 2008;58:851-64.

  • Getty Images

  • J Am Acad Dermatol 2010;63:733-48.

  • Getty Images

  • J Am Acad Dermatol 2010;63:733-48.


All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

The American Academy of Dermatology gratefully acknowledges the support from Amgen.

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