For people living with psoriatic arthritis, the phrase “more that skin deep” really hits home.

Spotting the signs

Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis, a chronic, noncontagious disease that appears on the skin, will develop psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory form of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis causes swelling, stiffness and pain in and around the joints.

Two million people in the U.S. suffer from psoriatic arthritis and nearly one in four people with psoriasis may have undiagnosed psoriatic arthritis. The fatigue and pain associated with the disease can take a steep toll on quality of life, affecting everything from work and relationships to overall well-being.

Common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include fatigue, swollen fingers and toes, as well as tenderness, pain and swelling in one or more joints. Changes on fingernails or toenails, such as pitting or separation from the nail bed, can also be a sign of increased risk of developing psoriatic arthritis.

A quick catch

Research shows that patients who wait more than six months before getting diagnosed and starting treatment typically have worse clinical outcomes. On top of experiencing more severe bone and joint deterioration, these patients may not respond as well to treatment.

But prompt diagnosis and treatment can change the course of the disease. That’s why it’s important for people with psoriasis to know the signs of psoriatic arthritis and report any symptoms to their doctor as soon as possible.

Today, there are many safe and effective treatments that can ease the symptoms and even slow the progression of the disease. Thanks to innovative research, the coming years will see even more treatment options that will dramatically improve outcomes for people with the disease.

The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends that if you or anyone in your family has psoriasis and you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. Getting diagnosed and working with a physician to identify the right treatment can help keep your joints and bones healthy.