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Psoriatic Arthritis presents in varied patterns and symptoms which may make identification and diagnosis of the disease a challenge. However, continuous observation and prompt communication of joint symptoms (to your Dermatologist) can be the key to accurate and early diagnosis.
The impact of Psoriatic Arthritis can result not only in joint damage but also impact on other body organs and systems.
A 6 to 12-month delay in diagnosis has been shown to increase chances of irreversible joint damage and cause functional disability. If you already suffer from Psoriasis, experts recommend that you assess your risk of Psoriatic Arthritis using the PEST questionnaire.
Medical history: Your Dermatologist or skin doctor will check your current skin and nail symptoms. He will also discuss regarding when your symptoms started, their severity and frequency. Your doctor will also enquire if any of your family members suffer from Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis or any other autoimmune disease.
Physical examination: Your Dermatologist will look for joint pain, swelling, or skin changes.
Laboratory tests: These tests can help confirm the diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis while ruling out other conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis. Most commonly recommended laboratory tests are: Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR), Rheumatoid factor (RF), HLA-B27 (which is a genetic test), and sometimes an iron test.
Other diagnostic tests: If the Dermatologist feels you are showing signs and symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis, he might refer you to a Rheumatologist who may advise you certain tests which may include X-rays, ultrasound scan, an MRI or CT scan to assess joint damage.
A Rheumatologist is a specialist who treats rheumatic diseases like arthritis and other autoimmune diseases
Coates LC, et al. Clinical Medicine 2017;17(1):65–70.
Arthritis Foundation. Psoriatic Arthritis. Available [Online] at: https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/psoriatic-arthritis Accessed on 2 July 2020.
WebMD. Psoriatic Arthritis: Tests and diagnosis. Available [Online] at: https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/psoriatic-arthritis/psoriatic-arthritis-diagnosis?print=true Accessed on 29th July 2020.
American College of Rheumatology. Patient Fact Sheet. Available [Online] at: https://www.rheumatology.org/Portals/0/Files/Psoriatic-Arthritis-Fact-Sheet.pdf Accessed on 4th May 2020.
Medicine.net. Medical Definition of Rheumatologist. Available [Online] at: https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11968 Accessed on 3 July 2020.