Various caution and warning signs

The First Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriasis is a tricky little devil, from diagnosis to treatment, it feels like the stars have to align just perfectly in order to feel like you are making any real progress.

Well, what about psoriatic arthritis? It's even trickier to catch. Sure, all the “experts” agree that early diagnosis is key, but if you don’t know what you are looking for and everyone is different, how is getting an early diagnosis actually going to work?

Let's take a look at the first signs

Just like the old saying goes, hindsight really is 20/20. And I’m willing to bet that if you ask most PsA patients what their first symptoms were, they will likely tell you that after diagnosis, their actual first symptoms started long before they sought medical attention.

For example, many years before my PsA diagnosis, I noticed tiny divots in my nails when I painted them. Sure, I thought, hmmmmm, that’s weird. But not much more past that.

Then a few years after that, my eyes went all “crazy” with one thing after another with them. Then my ears. And so it went, one strange thing after another over nearly a 15-year span. All part of the first signs of psoriatic arthritis. But did I know that? Nope.

Looking back, if it didn’t hurt my hand so much, I would give myself the biggest facepalm in the history of the world.

What is really going on?

A quick google search should tell you all the answers you need if you know what you are looking for. But the problem is, the first signs of psoriatic arthritis can be so random, varied, and even strange. Not only that, but they overlap with other diseases and even ordinary, run-of-the-mill daily annoyances.

It’s no wonder that no one really knows what the first signs of psoriatic arthritis are. Sure, you can find a “typical” list of signs and symptoms, but even that is just a generalized list of what most people experience. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

Getting a delayed diagnosis

Yet here we sit, trying to help each other out, trying to navigate the pathway from diagnosis to treatment. We have new people popping up on the Q&A boards. And everyone is just trying to figure out exactly what the first signs of psoriatic arthritis actually are and how they fit into the facts that we do know.

In fact, it’s not until many of us already have permanent damage that we actually seek (and find) medical attention from our symptoms. By the time I sought an opinion from a second rheumatologist, I already had permanent joint damage, hearing loss, and advanced disease progression. It’s sad really.

A diagnostic dilemma

Despite the fact that we still have a long way to go, we have made a great deal of progress in recent years when it comes to treating psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Yet, when it comes to actually diagnosing these diseases, there is very little to go on.

And in many cases, it isn’t until permanent damage has been done that we really definitively know what is going on, especially for people who have not been previously diagnosed with psoriasis. It is unacceptable, really. A PsA diagnosis really ends up being the “well, it isn’t anything else” diagnosis. We shouldn’t have to rely on a process of elimination to achieve a diagnosis.

Are you struggled to get a diagnosis of PsA? What are your current symptoms? What were your first signs?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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