Background Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic, systemic, inflammatory disorder characterized by the association of arthritis with psoriasis. Patients with PsA may have a heterogeneous and variable clinical course. Evidence that affected patients can have significant radiographic joint damage, functional impairment, reduced quality of life and long-term work disability is increasing.
Objectives This study aims to determine the prevalence and clinical features of psoriatic arthritis and joint complaints in patients with psoriasis examined in a German national survey.
Methods This study is a non-interventional, cross-sectional analysis on 2009 patients with psoriasis from 13 dermatological hospitals and 129 dermatological private practices and outpatient clinics in Germany. Patients showing rheumatological symptoms were further recorded with respect to active arthritis and PsA symptoms according to Group for Research and Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis criteria.
Results Nineteen per cent of the patients had PsA, including 14.8% previously confirmed and 4.2% newly diagnosed disease. Another 7.7% had intermittent but clinically unspecific joint symptoms, which could not be clearly attributed to PsA. About half (49.7%) of the patients with PsA had at least 1 swollen joint and 84.9% (n = 287) 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 mean number of swollen joints among the affected patients amounted to an average of 6.8.
Conclusion Our results show that there is still a significant number of patients suspected of having joint involvement without ever having been diagnosed with PsA. Recently published data indicate that progression of joint damage and functional disability can be prevented if adequate treatment is started promptly. Early diagnosis and interdisciplinary care are thus crucial.