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Arthritis: ‘Swollen sausage-like toes’ could be a symptom of psoriatic arthritis

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People who have the skin condition psoriasis – even if it’s very mild – might be at risk of developing psoriatic arthritis. What are the symptoms of this joint disease? And what can be done about it? One key sign is “swollen sausage-like toes” said The Psoriasis Association. The fingers may also swell in response to the disease affecting joints in the hands, which could also be “tender, swollen and stiff”.

These painful symptoms tend to be worse first thing in the morning and ease with movement.

Psoriatic arthritis affects joints in the knees, hands and feet, as well as where tendons join to the bones.

For example, the heel and lower back may be affected by the uncomfortable disease.

“Inflammation of tendons without obvious inflammation of the joints can also occur in psoriatic arthritis,” the charity emphasised.

This “makes it easy to misdiagnose [psoriatic arthritis] as tendonitis or tennis elbow”.

There may be nail changes to look out for too, which may include holes or pits on the surface of the nail.

In addition, the nail may become discoloured or lift up from the nail bed.

Psoriatic arthritis may also lead to a reduced range of movement, general tiredness and throbbing joints.

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The risk factor

One in five people with psoriasis will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.

In line with this, most people have psoriasis on their skin before they notice signs of psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriasis

The NHS explained: “Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales.”

Although these patches can appear anywhere on the body, they typically appear on the:

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Scalp
  • Lower back

Some people with the skin condition may experience itching and soreness.

The chronic disease usually involves periods of no symptoms followed by more severe flare-ups.

For some, the condition can be a minor irritation; for others, it can majorly affect their quality of life.

Psoriasis is thought to be related to an issue with the immune system, where the immune system mistakenly attacks its own skin cells.

Treatments

While there’s no cure for psoriasis, topical corticosteroids can be prescribed to manage symptoms.

As for psoriatic arthritis, once a diagnosis is made, your GP should refer you to a rheumatologist.

A rheumatologist can offer physiotherapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and painkillers.

Furthermore, steroid injections might be offered to help manage painful symptoms.

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