Eric Matteson, MD, chair of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., says keeping a watchful eye for arthritis symptoms after developing psoriasis is the first, and best, way to be diligent.

When should you worry? “It depends on your age, whether the arthritis goes away when you stretch and get moving, whether there is swelling and what kind of history you’ve had with psoriasis,” he says. “It never hurts to be seen by a rheumatologist because early diagnosis of and treatment for psoriatic arthritis goes a long way toward preventing permanent joint damage.”

Dr. Matteson says it isn't uncommon for general practitioners and dermatologists to either miss the signs of PsA, or fail to prepare their patients to be on the lookout for joint issues.

Keep in mind, says Dr. Boh, that anywhere between 5 and 40 percent of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. 

Why such a wide range? Patients with long-lasting and moderate-to-severe psoriasis, she says, have about a 40 percent chance of developing arthritis in at least one joint. But for those with a mild, intermittent case of psoriasis on the scalp, the odds are closer to 5 percent.

The Facts:

  • Roughly 7 million Americans will develop psoriasis, usually around age 20-25.
  • Only 10 percent of that 7 million will develop psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis simultaneously.
  • Most people develop psoriasis first – only 5 percent of people with PsA experience joint pain first, then skin irritation.
  • Psoriatic arthritis usually manifests around age 40 to 45.
  • There are no absolute markers to test for psoriatic arthritis.
  • People with severe cases of psoriasis are more likely to develop PsA.