Healthy Living

Differentiating Lupus and Psoriatic Arthritis

Differentiating Lupus and Psoriatic Arthritis

Key Takeaways

Arthritis - An Overview

Arthritis is the name given to diseases or disorders that affect the body joints. Arthritis is a health issue that affects the joints, bones, and muscles and can also cause many problems with one's general health condition. Over 50 million of the Americans are diagnosed with arthritis or some other disease that is caused by arthritis. Arthritis can be very painful. It causes pain in the joints – ankles, elbow, feet and toes, hips, knees, shoulders, back, hands and fingers. The most common type of arthritis includes osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), fibromyalgia, gout etc.

Aside from the above mentioned common types, it is assumed that there are over a hundred types of arthritis and allied diseases that have been identified in humans. Lupus and psoriatic arthritis are chronic forms that have many similarities. Let's familiarize both of these in detail.

What is Lupus Arthritis?

Lupus is a long-standing disease complex enough to make it difficult to diagnose. Some of the symptoms of lupus mimic other diseases for instance rheumatoid arthritis, which makes it even more difficult to diagnose lupus. That’s why lupus is called a “great imitator.” Symptoms of lupus disappear and again reappear, so it may take years to diagnose lupus. There’s no single lab test to date which can diagnose for sure if the affected person has lupus. The severe effects of lupus include kidney damage, hampered blood flow, brain fogging (stroke, seizure, hallucination, alteration in behavior etc.), heart attack, lung disease, bone collapse, increased susceptibility to infections, and miscarriage.

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is also a chronic form of arthritis which is linked with skin psoriasis. If the inflammation caused by psoriatic arthritis is not controlled, it might lead to the permanent damage of the joint. People who fall under the age group of 30-50 are more vulnerable to this form of arthritis. The risk factor has been divided equally among men and women. Uveitis, a form eye inflammation, is seen among children suffering from Psoriatic arthritis. About 15% of the patients with psoriasis can later develop psoriatic arthritis. Any joints of the body can be affected with this type of arthritis. High levels of blood pressure and cholesterol occur in most patients. Obesity and diabetes are also seen evidently among psoriatic patients.

How do Lupus and Psoriatic arthritis differ from each other?

The similarities in symptoms often complicate initial diagnosis of lupus and psoriatic arthritis. The antibodies produced in both cases cause inflammation and damage to the tissue and both represent the auto-immune disease category. Both are identified to cause damage to vital organs like heart, brain, lungs, and kidneys. Both lupus and psoriatic arthritis do not have a definitive test. Normally when your body senses entry of any “foreign” particles or microorganisms, the immune cells get activated and release certain antibodies into the bloodstream in an attempt to get rid of the foreign bodies.

But when you have any auto-immune condition, the immune system fails to differentiate the body’s own healthy tissues from foreign bodies, and thus release (auto) antibodies that attack the healthy tissues.

Psoriasis shows silver scaly patches which are usually flat; whereas, lupus rashes are red, raised, and usually in areas that are exposed to sunlight (face, neck, arms, scalp). These patches may vary from person to person. Some people find them itchy, some find them painful. The symptom depends on the location and sensitivity of your skin.

Lupus is characterized by immune-mediated damages to the skin, joints, blood, kidneys, heart, and lungs while psoriatic arthritis has symptoms such as inflamed skin and joints.

Studies suggest psoriatic arthritis is more likely to develop in patients who have lupus. Patients who have overlapping symptoms of both the conditions are a challenge to even experienced doctors and specialists, often leading to misdiagnosis.

However, these conditions are not the same. Learn more about the differences here:

  • Psoriatic arthritis symptoms are not widespread and limited to skin and joint (learn more about the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis) but lupus can have a broader range of symptoms affecting vital organs like heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain (learn more about the symptoms of lupus).
  • Psoriatic arthritis is a non-life threatening condition, whereas lupus when severe can be fatal. The damaging effects of lupus on various vital organs make it a more menacing condition compared to Psoriatic Arthritis.
  • Though the exact causes of both these conditions cannot be accurately traced, lupus is more specific when it comes to the ages and races of the people affected. Lupus risk is higher in women and in individuals of Hispanic, African-American, and Asian origin. Psoriatic arthritis is commonly seen in individuals 30-40 years of age who previously had psoriasis during their 20s. Yet, both these conditions can affect people of any age irrespective of the gender.
  • Diagnostic tests for lupus include blood and urine tests, imaging tests, and biopsy (find here in details about the diagnostic tests for lupus), but there is no lab test for psoriatic arthritis. An X-ray and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) of the affected joints are used to determine psoriatic arthritis. However, your doctor may suggest some blood and joint-fluid tests to rule out other joint problems that produce similar symptoms.

Can knowledge of differences help the diagnosis?

Yes, to some extent!

After reading this article, we believe you have gained a substantial knowledge about your illness and can differentiate it from other conditions that have similar symptoms. Lupus and psoriatic arthritis have few common symptoms which make the diagnosis difficult. Also in some cases, both these conditions can co-exist, complicating the diagnosis even more.

When you have any of the symptoms of either lupus or psoriatic arthritis, you'll be confused on what your actual illness is. Knowing the differences will not, of course, make you an expert, but rather facilitates your diagnosis. Thus you can help your doctor make a more accurate diagnosis.

Confused if your symptoms are due to lupus or psoriatic arthritis? Get expert advice and specialized treatment from the best doctors in your town. Find them here.