ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Health»
  • Diseases, Disorders & Conditions

Psoriatic Arthritis Versus Rheumatoid Arthritis: Yes, There Is a Difference!

Updated on February 20, 2018
Just as psoriasis inflames the skin tissue, PsA inflames the tissue in and around the joints.
Just as psoriasis inflames the skin tissue, PsA inflames the tissue in and around the joints.

Psoriatic Arthritis Versus Rheumatoid Arthritis

Many people think arthritis is just one condition, but there are many forms of arthritis. Each type has its own triggers, symptoms, diagnosis and even treatment options.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are just two types of arthritis. They are both autoimmune diseases, which are conditions that start when the immune system attacks its own healthy tissues because it thinks they are diseased.

The two conditions may have things in common, but they have many differences.

There are 1.28 to 1.36 million adults in the United States living with RA.

What Is Psoriatic Arthritis?

PsA is a chronic inflammatory arthritis often affecting people who have psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disease where skin cells build up and form scales and itchy, dry patches.

According to one report from the Cleveland Clinic, up to one percent of the population has PsA. Thirty percent of these people also have psoriasis, this according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.

A classic feature of PsA is sausage-like fingers and/or toes. Other symptoms may include:

  • Thickening of nails
  • Detachment of nails from nailbeds
  • Red, scaly, itchy skin patches
  • Painful, swollen, stiff joints
  • Fatigue
  • Limited range of motion
  • Eye problems

Genetics is thought to be a strong risk factor in the development of PsA, but exact causes are unknown.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Research from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, found that in 2014, there were 1.28 to 1.36 million adults in the United States living with RA.

RA commonly affects people in middle age. While women are likely to have RA, men and women are both affected, as are children.

In RA, the immune system attacks the joint lining, resulting in inflammation, pain, swelling and stiffness. Untreated RA may cause damage, deformity and disability of bones and joints.

If you have RA, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Stiffness in the morning that lasts more than 30 minutes
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Fevers
  • Eye and/or mouth dryness
  • Skin problems, including rheumatoid nodules (small lumps under skin over bony areas)
  • Lung inflammation leading to shortness of breath
  • Blood vessel inflammation that may cause damage to nerves, skin and other organs
  • Anemia – a low red blood cell count which causes symptoms of fatigue, pale skin, lightheadedness/dizziness, shortness of breath and/or fast heartbeat.

Some people with RA have a more severe form of the condition where fatigue, pain, persistent inflammation leads to joint damage, disease complications, and disability.
Some people with RA have a more severe form of the condition where fatigue, pain, persistent inflammation leads to joint damage, disease complications, and disability.

Which One Were You Diagnosed First With?

See results

Understanding Arthritic Flares

Both PsA and RA cause flares. Flares are also referred to as flare-ups because symptoms of the disease suddenly worsen after a period of low or no activity.

Flares also are a warning sign of worsening disease severity, as the more often a person has a flare, the more likely they are to have more advanced symptoms and disease complications.

It is believed PsA flares are caused by triggers, including stress, sleep issues, changing medication, overexertion and bad diet choices. The same triggers may also apply to people with RA.

PsA flares can cause increases in:

  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of fingers and toes
  • Eye inflammation
  • Nail and skin symptoms

Just like PsA flares, RA flares are unpredictable and debilitating. Speaking from experience, I can tell you RA is disease of highs and lows.

Some days, your joints feel fine and so does the rest of your body. The next day, however, your joints may hurt, your energy levels might be low, and you can barely get out of bed.

The best advice I have for dealing with flares is to listen to your own body. It is also important to be open to talking to your doctor about your symptoms and how they affect your life.

And it is possible your lab tests may disagree with some of your symptoms, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to speak up. No one knows your body better than you and talking about your symptoms may identify worsening RA or PsA or another possible condition that could be making things harder for you to get through flares.

Don’t forget to get plenty of rest during flares. Your joints are achy and stiff and your body feels drained, so it makes sense to stay in bed for a day or two.

Once you feel better, you can go back to your normal activities. But if you are still struggling after a couple days, it is time to call your doctor.

It may appear PsA and RA have a lot in common, but they also have many differences.

It is believed PsA flares are caused by triggers, including stress, sleep issues, changing medication, overexertion and bad diet choices. The same triggers may also apply to people with RA.
It is believed PsA flares are caused by triggers, including stress, sleep issues, changing medication, overexertion and bad diet choices. The same triggers may also apply to people with RA.

Similarities and Differences of Psoriatic Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

PsA and RA both vary greatly in how they affect people. But they also have some interesting similarities, including:

  • Periods of flares and remission. Remission, as it relates to autoimmune diseases, is a period where there is little or no disease activity.
  • Running in families and are likely related to genetics
  • Specific causes are unknown
  • Affecting anyone, including children
  • Causing inflammation that may result in joint destruction and deformity and disability
  • Affecting internal organs. Long term inflammation of both conditions can lead to scarring and damage to internal organs, including the lungs and heart.
  • No cure for either condition
  • Similar treatments. Both are treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), immunosuppressant drugs called biologics, and corticosteroids
  • The potential for causing osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weak and brittle.

It may appear PsA and RA have a lot in common, but they also have many differences.

Their differences include:

  • Blood markers. People with RA usually have a blood marker called a rheumatoid factor (RF) whereas the RF is generally negative in people with PsA. Some people with RA have seronegative RA, which involves a negative RF and no other specific antibodies characteristic of RA, which can make diagnosis tricky.
  • Diagnosis. Diagnosis for RA looks at medical history, symptoms, physical examination, blood tests, and imaging studies to look for joint damage. Diagnosis of a PsA is similar but involves a more thorough examination of joints, fingernails, feet, tender points, and scalp to look for flaking and other abnormalities.
  • Joint involvement. There are specific joints affected by each condition. For example, RA affects the smaller joints, such as the hands and feet, but it tends to be symmetrical (meaning, both sides are affected). PsA affects the areas of the hands and toes closest to the nail beds and the lower back and it is usually asymmetrical.
  • Psoriasis. Most people with PsA also have psoriasis, which affects the skin, eyes, nails and tendons.

Tips for Coping With Joint Stiffness in the Morning

The Takeaway

PsA and RA may look like similar conditions, and at times, even doctors may have a harder time distinguishing between the two.

Treatment for both conditions is similar and sometimes, medications don’t help in halting these conditions, resulting in complications, including joint damage, disability, and problems with skin and internal organs.

The strongest difference between PsA and RA is skin involvement. While RA can cause itchy, dry skin, rheumatoid nodules, and/or rashes, PsA causes itchy, dry, red patches and thick silvery scales due to excessive skin growth that is both painful and emotionally distressing.

While prognosis for PsA and RA is difficult to predict and outcomes vary from person-to-person, today’s treatment options tend to yield positive results. People with PsA or RA can still have healthy and productive lives, provided they adhere to treatments and treatments work.

PsA and RA may look like similar conditions, and at times, even doctors may have a harder time distinguishing between the two.

Written by Lana Barhum

© 2018 NewLifeOutlook

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)