Prevalence of arthritis among patients with psoriasis

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Psoriasis is sometimes associated with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), a chronic, painful inflammation of the joints. There is evidence to suggest PsA can result in significant joint damage, functional impairment, reduced quality of life and long-term work disability. The objective of this large study was to determine the prevalence and clinical features of psoriatic arthritis and joint complaints in patients with psoriasis examined in a German national survey. In all, 2009 patients with psoriasis from 13 dermatological hospitals and 129 dermatological private practices and outpatient clinics in Germany were included. Researchers found that 19% of patients with psoriasis had PsA. Another 7.7% had intermittent but clinically unspecific joint symptoms, which could not be clearly attributed to PsA.

Of the patients identified as having PsA, almost half (49.7%) had at least 1 swollen joint and 84.9% suffered from joint pain. Patients suffering from pain marked an average of 8.7 joints on a diagram as painful out of a possible 28. The average number of swollen joints among the affected patients amounted to an average of 6.8.

Comments: These results demonstrate that a significant minority (20%) of patients with psoriasis have established PsA and a further 8% have symptoms which are suggestive of PsA without ever having been diagnosed as such. Recently published data indicate that progression of joint damage and functional disability can be prevented if adequate treatment is started promptly. Hence early diagnosis and intensive treatment are essential.

Radtke M, Reich K, Blome C, et al. Prevalence and clinical features of psoriatic arthritis and joint complaints in 2009 patients with psoriasis: results of a German national survey. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2009 Mar 4. (Epub ahead of print)

Article prepared by:
Dr David Ashton MD PhD
27 April 2009