Diagnosing psoriatic arthritis

Currently, no single test exists that can, on its own, provide a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. However, there are various tests and criteria that your doctor can evaluate to help him/her to arrive at this diagnosis.

Your doctor can most easily diagnose psoriatic arthritis if you already show signs and symptoms of psoriasis and have either red, swollen fingers or red, swollen toes. (The presence of psoriasis lesions on the skin and nails are a key to confirming this diagnosis.) Your doctor will also likely review your medical history and may perform a physical examination. If psoriatic arthritis is suspected, tests such as X-rays (or other forms of imaging, such as MRI or ultrasound), blood tests, and joint fluid tests may be needed to help your doctor determine this diagnosis (and rule out other possibilities).

Your doctor may also refer you to speak with a specialist who has expertise in treating arthritis (a rheumatologist) and who may be able to best diagnose your condition. (As the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are known to resemble those of other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout, the diagnosis can be difficult to make.) The rheumatologist may also be able to recommend the best treatment plan for you. If you have psoriatic arthritis, or think you do, keep in mind that an early diagnosis is important so that treatment can begin as soon as possible to help prevent bone loss and maintain maximum range of motion.

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