The main symptom of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is pain and swelling of the joints. The joints may also be tender or stiff, or feel warm when touched.

PsA may affect any joint in the body, but it usually affects the fingers and toes. It can also affect the wrists, knees, ankles, and lower back (see Figure 1). PsA also causes inflammation of tissues near the joints, such as ligaments, tendons, muscles, and skin. Fingers or toes may become so swollen that they look like "sausages" (see Figure 2).

Other PsA symptoms include:

  • silvery or grey skin rash, especially on the elbows, knees, and scalp (see Figure 3)
  • fingernails or toenails that lift up from the skin or become pitted with small holes (see Figure 4)
  • reduced range of motion in the affected joints
  • feeling stiff first thing in the morning
  • fatigue

Figure 1

Joints affected in psoriatic arthritis.

Joints affected in psoriatic arthritis.

Figure 2

Fingers or toes may become so swollen that they look like sausages.

Fingers or toes may become so swollen that they look like "sausages."

Figure 3

Commonly affected areas in psoriasis.

Commonly affected areas in psoriasis.

Figure 4

Nails may become pitted (small holes), separated from the nail bed, or ridged and cracked.

Nails may become pitted (small holes), separated from the nail bed, or ridged and cracked.



With early diagnosis and appropriate early treatment, joint damage associated with PsA can be slowed down. About 40% to 60% of people with PsA will develop severe joint damage, and damage starts as early as the first year after diagnosis.

Take control of your condition and talk to your doctor about building a treatment plan.