Psoriatic Arthritis Thumb Pain

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects many individuals with psoriasis, causing joint pain and stiffness. This article explores the nature of psoriatic arthritis, focusing on its causes, symptoms, and the specific impact it can have on the thumb. 

For those seeking specialized care, the expert team at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow in Marietta and Atlanta, Georgia, is ready to help you manage psoriatic arthritis effectively. Contact us today!

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What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis—a condition that causes red, scaly skin patches. In psoriatic arthritis, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joints, leading to inflammation and joint pain. This condition can cause swelling, stiffness, and pain in any joint, but it often affects the fingers and toes, including the thumb.

Psoriatic arthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis because both involve the immune system attacking the joints, but they are different diseases. While rheumatoid arthritis primarily affects the lining of the joints, psoriatic arthritis can also cause changes in the skin and nails.

If not treated properly, psoriatic arthritis can lead to joint damage, which can be severe and disabling.

What Causes Psoriatic Arthritis?

The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is not fully understood, but it is believed that both genetic and environmental factors play a role.

People who have a family history of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis are more likely to develop psoriatic arthritis themselves. Certain genes can make someone more susceptible to the condition. However, having these genes does not guarantee that a person will develop psoriatic arthritis.

Environmental factors, such as infections, injuries, or severe stress, can trigger psoriatic arthritis in people who are already at risk. For instance, an infection might cause the immune system to overreact, leading to inflammation in the joints.

In some cases, lifestyle factors like obesity and smoking may also increase the risk. Understanding these triggers and factors can help in managing and possibly preventing psoriatic arthritis. If you have a family history of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, it’s important to be aware of these potential triggers and consult a doctor if you experience joint pain or other symptoms.

How Does Psoriatic Arthritis Affect the Hand?

Psoriatic arthritis can significantly impact the hands, including the thumb. This condition causes inflammation in the joints, leading to pain, swelling, and stiffness. When psoriatic arthritis affects the hands, it can make everyday tasks like gripping, holding, or pinching objects difficult and painful.

The thumb is particularly susceptible because it is used so frequently. Inflammation in the thumb joint can cause pain that makes it hard to perform simple activities such as writing, buttoning a shirt, or opening a jar. The joint at the base of the thumb, known as the carpometacarpal joint, is often affected. 

Over time, if psoriatic arthritis is not treated, it can cause permanent joint damage and deformity. This damage can reduce the thumb’s range of motion and strength, further limiting hand function.

What Are the Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis can show up differently for each person, but common symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, especially in the fingers and toes. Skin symptoms like red, scaly patches (psoriasis) may also appear. Some people may experience fatigue, nail changes, or eye inflammation.

If you notice persistent joint pain or swelling, especially combined with skin symptoms, it’s essential to see a doctor. Other signs include morning stiffness, reduced range of motion in joints, and tender spots.

Additionally, people with psoriatic arthritis have a higher risk of conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. So, if you have psoriasis and start experiencing arthritis symptoms or other health issues, it’s vital to seek medical attention promptly.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms, prevent joint damage, and improve quality of life. A doctor can provide proper guidance, medications, and lifestyle recommendations tailored to your needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you suspect you have psoriatic arthritis.

How is Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing psoriatic arthritis usually involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and tests. Your doctor will ask about symptoms, family history of psoriasis or arthritis, and conduct a thorough examination of your joints and skin.

Blood tests may be done to check for markers of inflammation and specific antibodies associated with psoriatic arthritis. However, these tests alone aren’t enough to diagnose the condition definitively.

Imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans can help detect joint damage, inflammation, or changes characteristic of psoriatic arthritis. These tests also help rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

Sometimes, a dermatologist may also be involved to confirm skin symptoms like psoriasis.

Treating Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis treatment aims to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and improve joint function. Medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help with pain and swelling. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics target the underlying immune system issues to slow down joint damage.

In addition to medications, lifestyle changes play a crucial role. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can help treat psoriatic arthritis and manage symptoms. A physical or occupational therapist can improve joint flexibility, strength, and function, while splints or braces may support affected joints, including the thumb.

An occupational therapist can provide strategies to ease everyday tasks and protect joints. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged joints.

Expert Care for Psoriatic Arthritis

If you experience persistent joint pain, swelling, or stiffness, particularly in your thumb, it’s essential to seek professional help. For specialized care, consider scheduling an appointment with our healthcare professionals at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow. 

Located in Marietta and Atlanta, Georgia, our team of orthopedic specialists can provide personalized treatment plans to help you manage psoriatic arthritis and maintain an active, pain-free life. Don’t wait—take the first step toward relief and better health today!

Medically reviewed by

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon