Psoriatic Arthritis

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What Is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition of the joints associated with psoriasis (a skin-related auto-immune disease).  It commonly affects the feet and ankles, and is characterized by swelling of the toes and feet, changes to the toenails, and skin rashes on the feet.  The joints in the toes, feet and ankle may also become stiff and painful.

Like Rheumatoid Arthritis, it is an inflammatory disorder with an auto-immune component, meaning that it occurs when our immune system starts fighting healthy cells.  Because both conditions involve chronic inflammation in the joints, the symptoms and presentation are often similar.

About 30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. Usually people develop psoriasis before psoriatic arthritis, but sometimes the arthritic symptoms may present before the disease starts affecting the skin.


What Are The Signs Of Psoriatic Arthritis?

Some of the common symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis in the feet are:

  • Pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints of the feet and ankle.  This can be in both feet or isolated to one.
  • Sausage-like swelling in the toes (called dactylitis).  The rest of the foot may also swell.
  • Heel pain: This occurs due to inflammation of the Achilles’ tendon (Achilles tendonitis), which connects our heel bone to our calf muscles.
  • Pain on the sole of the foot: This is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, the tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot (plantar fasciitis). Psoriatic arthritis can sometimes be the underlying cause of plantar fasciitis, which can lead to misdiagnosis.
  • Discoloration, pitting (small depressions), thickening or detachment of the toenails from the nail bed (psoriatic onychodystrophy or “psoriatic nails”):  These symptoms occur more frequently in elderly psoriatic arthritis patients.
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting days or weeks that does not go away with adequate rest.
  • Redness or warmth in affected joints.
  • Red or purple raised scaly patches or lesions on the skin of the feet.  These lesions (called “plaques”) are the signature symptom of psoriasis and may appear elsewhere on the body as well.
  • Symptoms may be intermittent and periodically come and go. When the symptoms are active, it’s referred to as a “flare-up”, and when they are inactive it’s called “remission”.


What Causes Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic Arthritis is secondary to (and often preceded by) Psoriasis. Both are auto-immune diseases where the body’s immune system becomes overactive and starts attacking healthy cells: With Psoriasis, the body attacks skin cells; with Psoriatic Arthritis it attacks the joints. When these cells are attacked, the immune system tries to protect and heal the damage by triggering its inflammatory response, which produces inflammation in the affected areas. Although the inflammatory response is part of our body’s natural, healthy way to heal injuries, with an auto-immune disease like psoriatic arthritis, the immune system gets confused and repeatedly misfires its inflammatory response. This causes excessive inflammation buildup in the joints, which leads to pain and stiffness and can damage the surrounding muscle and tissue over time.

The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown.  There is believed to be a strong genetic component that either causes or predisposes a person to developing Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis.  There is also evidence that infection or trauma can be a contributing factor, because both of these trigger the body’s inflammatory response.


Psoriatic arthritis cannot be cured, but it can be effectively managed and treated.  Some of these treatment options include:

  • Splinting or bracing:  A chiropodist can splint or brace the affected joints (i.e.: the toes or ankle), which immobilizes them and helps reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Proper footwear and orthotics that relieve pressure on the affected areas and promote healthy biomechanics:  These will reduce the strain and burden on the affected joints, which in turn reduces the frequency and intensity of flare-ups. This also reduces pressure points along the feet, which alleviates the buildup of psoriasis plaques. A chiropodist can perform a foot assessment to find the best solutions for your psoriatic arthritis.
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy:  This will strengthen the affected muscles and make movement easier.  Strong muscles alleviate strain on the joints, which can mitigate any damaging effects of the disease on the joints. Click here for strengthening and wellness tips specific to psoriatic arthritis, from  You can also check out our stretching series for ways you can strengthen the muscles in your feet and ankles at home, as well as the following blog articles:
  • Medication:  There are two categories of medications that can help with psoriatic arthritis:
    • Anti-inflammatory medication:  As the name suggests, these medications reduce inflammation, which decreases stiffness and allows the joints to move easier.  Examples include Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Naproxen.  Sometimes, corticosteroids (i.e.: prednisone and cortisone) are prescribed or injected.
    • Anti-Rheumatic medication:  These medications are designed to suppress the immune system and target the auto-immune response that causes the disease.
  • Foot Care for Psoriasis plaques: chiropodist can safely and effectively remove the itchy, scaly psoriasis plaques on the feet during a medical pedicure or callus care appointment.

Looking for solutions to manage psoriatic arthritis in your feet? We’re here to help! Use our online booking form below or call us at 416-769-FEET(3338) to book an appointment with one of our chiropodists – no referral needed!


What Puts Me At Risk For Psoriatic Arthritis?

Risk factors for developing Psoriatic Arthritis are:

  • Psoriasis
  • Family History of skin or joint disease
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection – the correlation between psoriatic arthritis and HIV still being researched.

There is evidence that infection or trauma may contribute to the disease, but this is yet to be determined.


How Can I Prevent Psoriatic Arthritis?

There is no known way to prevent psoriatic arthritis. In psoriasis patients, risk factors can be mitigated with overall healthy lifestyle habits, like regular exercise, strengthening the muscles in your feet and ankles, and a balanced diet.

Our foot clinic offers many solutions for managing and preventing the effects of psoriatic arthritis.  To book an assessment with one of our foot specialists, use our online booking form or contact us at 416-769-FEET (3338) – no referral needed!

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Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures. She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.