Ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis both fall under the umbrella term, spondyloarthritis. This is because both conditions share a lot in common, but at the end of the day, they are different conditions. Spondyloarthritis refers to conditions that are either axial (affecting the spine) or peripheral (affecting other joints). Where does ankylosing spondylitis vs psoriatic arthritis fall on the scale, and what are their differences and similarities?

Ankylosing Spondylitis

This form of spondyloarthritis is axial, meaning it affects the spine and corresponding joints over time. While the causes of this inflammatory illness are unknown, genetics do play a factor. For those with a family history, their risk of developing the disease is increased. While men and women can develop ankylosing spondylitis, it is thought to be more prominent in men and in caucasion people. Spondylitis affects the tendons and ligaments and can lead to long term damage. In many cases, damage from ankylosing spondylitis can be seen in X-Rays. This condition is developed earlier than other illnesses under the spondyloarthritis umbrella. It is thought to first develop in teens and early 20s; mostly prior to reaching 40. 

The condition is known most commonly to cause lower back pain. This pain is not your average sore muscle pain; it’s caused by an inflammatory reaction and leads to intense muscle stiffness, especially in the morning. In severe cases, AS can lead to the fusion of vertebrae and ribs. The back pain is constant and slow to build, gradually expanding the pain points up the back in addition to the lower back and buttock area. 

Psoriatic Arthritis

While many believe this illness to develop after one has psoriasis, in some cases, psoriatic arthritis can predate the development of the skin condition. If you suffer from psoriasis, you have a greatly increased risk of developing psoriatic arthritis. In fact, 1 in 3 people with psoriasis will develop this kind of arthritis. This form of spondyloarthritis is peripheral, meaning it affects joints such as the hands and feet. It can be influenced by genetics as well as environment, although the direct cause is unknown. Most people with psoriasis develop PsA between ages 30-50.

PsA can be identified by stiffness and swelling in the joints, and pain commonly felt in one’s hands and feet. 

Ankylosing Spondylitis vs Psoriatic Arthritis

These illnesses fall under the same umbrella of conditions and are connected in many ways. Ankylosing spondylitis and skin conditions such as psoriasis are commonly found together. Many people live with multiple autoimmune diseases at a time, as many often develop together. For this reason, they share symptoms frequently. As an example, psoriasis and lower back pain can be found in a patient, even though lower back pain is more commonly associated with spondylitis. While a person can have both AS and psoriasis, it is not the same as axial PsA, which is when psoriatic arthritis also affects the back. To learn more about the differences, go here. Both of these conditions can cause GI problems and eye inflammation among other shared symptoms. When looking at ankylosing spondylitis vs psoriatic arthritis, there are differences. For instance, AS develops at a younger age. PsA can often increase one’s risk of heart disease. Fatigue is also a common symptom of PsA. PsA is known for affecting smaller joints such as fingers and toes while AS is known for affecting larger joints such as hips and knees and shoulders. In both conditions, misdiagnosis is common.

Getting an Accurate Diagnosis

Because so many patients view back pain as a normal occurrence, they often don’t bring it up until it has caused a significant amount of lasting damage. For this reason, it can take years for AS to be diagnosed correctly. Psoriatic arthritis can be misdiagnosed for other rheumatic diseases. Primary care doctors are not always well versed in rheumatic diseases which is why it’s so important to visit a trained rheumatologist. Keep track of your symptoms and make a list of what you are commonly experiencing and for how long. Do those symptoms correspond with the development or psoriasis? 

The diagnosis process can take time, but an early diagnosis is the key to preventing long lasting, painful joint damage and severe progression of the illnesses. If you live in Spring Tx or the surrounding areas and are curious about the differences between ankylosing spondylitis vs psoriatic arthritis, set up an appointment with Advanced Rheumatology of Houston. We have over 10 years of experience treating and successfully diagnosing rheumatic illnesses. Set up an appointment here