Psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune diseases that cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. However, they do have differences, and if you have one condition, you are unlikely to get the other.

What are their differences, and more importantly, how can they be treated? This article has your answers, so keep reading to find out more.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) affects approximately 30% of people who have psoriasis, a disease that affects the skin with red patches and silver scales. Psoriasis has no known cause, but about 40% of the people with the condition have at least one member in their immediate family with psoriasis or PsA.

Psoriasis typically appears while a person is in their teens or early adulthood. PsA doesn’t show up until the ages of 30-50.

There are five different types of PsA:

  1. Distal interphalangeal predominant – mainly affects the ends of the fingers and toes (the last joint closest to the nails is the distal interphalangeal joint).
  2. Asymmetric oligoarticular – affects different joints on each side of the body.
  3. Symmetric polyarthritis – affects the same joints on each side of the body (both asymmetric oligoarticular and symmetric polyarthritis are the most common types of PsA).
  4. Spondylitis – inflammation in the vertebrae, with pain and stiffness in the neck and back.
  5. Arthritis mutilations – the least common type of PsA, it causes such severe inflammation of the joints in the hands and feet that they become deformed.

Symptoms of PsA may include:

  • Fingers and toes that look like sausages
  • Pitting or holes in the nails
  • Scaly patches of skin
  • Eye inflammation
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive inflammation
  • Tenderness in the tendons and ligaments
  • Reduced range of motion and problems with mobility
  • Lower back pain

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects people later than PsA, usually around ages 40-60. It occurs when the immune system attacks the tissue surrounding the joints. Common symptoms of RA may be:

  • Fatigue
  • Low-grade fever
  • Weight loss
  • Joints that are swollen, painful, tender, stiff, and warm to the touch
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Decreased range of motion
  • The same joints on each side of the body are affected.

A critical difference between PsA and RA is that RA produces rheumatoid factor (RF), proteins produced by the immune systems that attack healthy body tissue. In addition, while RA pain is usually localized to the fingers and toes, PsA can affect the back and pelvis.

Where to Find Treatment

Since psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have many common symptoms, they are sometimes difficult to diagnose, especially in the absence of the psoriasis skin condition. Getting a correct diagnosis involves consulting with a rheumatologist. The medical team at Advanced Rheumatology of Houston can determine which type of arthritis you have and get you started on the proper treatment plan. Delaying medical care may result in further health complications, so it’s essential to get started as soon as possible. If you have symptoms of PsA or RA, contact us today and schedule your appointment.