9 Early Warning Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a condition that affects around 30% of people who have psoriasis, a chronic skin condition (Singh et al., 2019). Early detection is important, as it can help people manage their condition and maintain their quality of life. 

This article will help answer the question, “What are the early warning signs of psoriatic arthritis?” and guide you through ways to prevent its development.

What Are the Early Warning Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis?

Spotting early warning signs of PsA is key to managing the disease. Let’s break down these symptoms:

1. Tiredness

Feeling very tired, even if you’ve had enough sleep, is one of the first signs of PsA. This isn’t just regular tiredness; it’s the kind that gets in the way of your daily life and can make you feel unwell.

2. Skin Issues

Psoriasis, a skin condition that shows up as red patches with silver scales, usually on the elbows, knees, or scalp, is often linked to PsA. If psoriasis runs in your family, you could be at a higher risk for PsA.

3. Swollen Fingers and Toes

If your whole fingers or toes are swollen, looking like sausages, it could be a sign of PsA. This is known as dactylitis and can happen even before you start feeling joint pain.

4. Stiff Joints

Your joints might feel stiff, especially when you wake up in the morning or if you’ve been sitting for a while. This can be an early sign of PsA and often comes with discomfort and difficulty moving.

5. Painful and Swollen Tendons

Tendons, the parts that connect muscles to bones, can become inflamed in PsA. This is called enthesitis and can lead to pain and swelling, especially in your heel, elbow, or other joints.

6. Eye Issues

Red, painful eyes, sensitivity to light, and blurry vision can be signs of an eye condition called uveitis, which is more common in people with PsA. Regular eye check-ups can help spot this early.

7. Changes in Your Nails

If your nails start to look different, with small dents (pitting) and ridges, or if the nail starts to separate from the skin underneath, it could be a sign of PsA. It’s easy to mistake these changes for a nail fungus.

9. Difficulty Moving

Trouble moving your joints due to swelling can be an early sign of PsA. This can affect any joint, but you might notice it more in your fingers, toes, and spine.

9. Lower Back Pain

Stiffness and pain in the lower back, butt, or neck could be signs of a type of arthritis that affects the spine, called spondylitis. This condition is more common in people with PsA and can make moving around difficult, affecting your daily life.

Preventing Psoriatic Arthritis

While you can’t completely avoid PsA, you can take steps to lessen its severity or slow its progression. Simple changes like maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol, and regular exercise can help.


  1. Smoking doubles the risk of developing PsA if you already have psoriasis (Li et al., 2012).
  2. Drinking too much alcohol also increases your risk (Rathmann et al., 2020).
  3. Each unit increase in Body Mass Index means a 5% increased risk of PsA (Love et al., 2012).


1. What Causes Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic Arthritis, or PsA, can happen because of a mix of your genes, your body’s immune response, and things in your environment. Certain genes can make you more likely to get PsA. But not everyone with these genes gets it. So, other factors like getting sick or hurt might also make PsA more likely to happen.

2. How Is Arthritis Diagnosed?

To find out if you have arthritis, including PsA, doctors look at your medical history and do a physical check-up. They also do lab tests and take images of your body, like X-rays or MRIs. There’s no single test that can confirm you have PsA. Often, doctors need to rule out other kinds of arthritis to confirm it’s PsA.

3. How Is Psoriatic Arthritis Different From Other Types Of Arthritis?

PsA is similar to other types of arthritis, but there are a few differences. If you have psoriasis (a skin condition), specific joint issues, or certain features seen in imaging studies, these could point to PsA. These features help doctors tell PsA apart from other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

4. What Is The Most Effective Medication For Arthritis?

The best medicine for arthritis, including PsA, depends on how severe your symptoms are, how many joints are affected, and your overall health. Some common medicines are anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, disease-altering drugs (DMARDs), and biological agents. The best medicine can vary from person to person, so you should discuss this with your healthcare provider.


Knowing the early warning signs of psoriatic arthritis is key to managing the disease. Remember to have regular check-ups, make lifestyle changes, and follow your treatment plan to manage the condition and improve your life quality.


  1. Singh, J. A., Ogdie, A., Guyatt, G., Gladman, D. D., Deodhar, A., Deal, C., & Marchetta, P. (2019). Treatment of Psoriatic Arthritis. National Psoriasis Foundation Guideline. Arthritis & Rheumatology, 71(1), 5-32.
  2. Li, W., Qureshi, A. A., Han, J. (2012). Obesity & risk of incident psoriatic arthritis in women, 71(8), 1267-1272.
  3. Rathmann, W., Kostev, K., Gruenberger, J. B., Dworak, M., Bongaerts, B., & Rathmann, I. (2020). Association of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis with osteoporosis and pathological fractures in Germany: a matched-pair analysis. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 34(8), 1830-1837.
  4. Zhu, Y., Love, T. J., Zhang, Y., Wall-Burns, Gelfand, J. M., L., Ogdie, A., & Choi, H. K. (2012). Obesity and the risk of psoriatic arthritis: a population-based study. Annals of the rheumatic diseases, 71(8), 1273-1277.

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