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Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis associated with psoriasis, a chronic skin and nail disease that causes a scaly, itchy skin rash as well as pitting, or indentations, on the finger and toe nails. Psoriatic arthritis causes pain and swelling in joints, especially in the fingers and toes. People with psoriatic arthritis may experience either the skin or joint symptoms first, or both symptoms may occur simultaneously.

Psoriatic arthritis affects at least 10 percent of the three million people with psoriasis in the United States. It affects men and women equally and usually begins between 30 to 50 years of age, but also can occur in childhood. The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown. However, genetic and environmental factors may play a role in the development of this disease.

Our Approach to Psoriatic Arthritis

UCSF provides comprehensive evaluations and advanced, personalized care for all forms of arthritis. Because arthritis often involves different systems in the body, our team includes several types of doctors, such as rheumatologists, plastic surgeons who specialize in correcting hand deformities, and orthopedic surgeons who specialize in joint deformities and joint replacement.

When treating arthritis linked to psoriasis, we first try common pain relief medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. If joint inflammation progresses, we may prescribe stronger medications known as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. Regular exercise is also a critical part of the treatment plan, helping to strengthen the joints and maintain their range of motion. We may recommend physical therapy.

In addition to caring for patients, our providers conduct clinical trials to evaluate potential new treatments for arthritis. Interested patients may have the option to receive investigational treatments through a clinical trial.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Among the top hospitals in the nation

  • usnews-rheumatology

    Best in California for rheumatology

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.