Complications Associated With Psoriatic Arthritis

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: August 2022

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an inflammatory joint disease linked to psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that causes painful, red, scaly patches. PsA can also cause several other health problems.1-4

One of those complications is progressive joint damage. Early, aggressive treatment for PsA is critical to prevent irreversible joint damage.1-4

The impact of PsA on quality of life

PsA symptoms and its complications can impact your quality of life. Everyday activities become much harder. You may have more fatigue as well as more doctor and hospital visits.5

Work can be challenging as well. You may miss more work because of chronic pain or new illnesses. A 2021 study found that PsA is associated with a loss of work productivity, especially in those with severe cases.5

The most severe form of PsA: Arthritis mutilans

Arthritis mutilans affects a low percentage of people with PsA. In arthritis mutilans, the bones in the fingers or toes break down and weaken. This shortens the fingers or toes, leading to deformity and loss of function.6

Other complications and diseases

In addition to joint damage, the inflammation linked to PsA puts people at risk for other diseases. These diseases include:2-4

  • Heart diseaseHeart disease is a leading cause of death for people with psoriatic disease. Heart disease includes coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and vascular disease. These conditions can lead to heart attack or stroke.
  • Obesity – When a person has a body mass index (BMI) of over 30, they are considered to have obesity. And the more weight put on the body’s joints, the worse symptoms become.
  • Metabolic syndrome – Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. It puts a person at increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Type 2 diabetes – Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which blood sugars are too high. It can put a person at higher risk for other complications like heart disease, kidney disease, and vision problems. And it can make PsA even worse.
  • Eye disease – PsA increases the risk of eye (ophthalmic) disease. The most common eye disease in people with PsA is uveitis.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – IBD is a condition in which the digestive tract becomes inflamed. IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It can cause symptoms such as abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, and more.
  • Anxiety and depression – PsA is a chronic disease that can be painful and isolating, and there is currently no cure. This reality can take a toll on a person’s mental and emotional health. Many people with PsA deal with anxiety and depression.

While PsA can lead to other complications, the good news is that if these conditions are caught early, they can be treated.3

Avoiding complications with early treatment

Treating PsA early with the right medicines and therapies lowers the risk of complications and other diseases. For example, physical therapy can help relieve pain, increase joint mobility, and maintain muscle function.4

Be aware of any changes going on in your body. If something does not feel right or you notice new aches or pains, talk to your doctor.

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