You experience joint pain, stiffness and/or swelling, and may have a skin condition called psoriasis. You may also experience back pain that gets better with activity and worse with rest, or swollen fingers or toes.
Visit your GP, or your dermatologist (specialist skin doctor) if you already see one, who will ask about your symptoms, perform a physical examination and order blood tests and X-rays.
Referral to a specialist
Your doctor refers you to a rheumatologist (specialist bone and joint doctor) for early diagnosis and treatment if they suspect inflammatory arthritis. Starting treatment in the early stages of PsA gives better long-term results.
You should expect to have an appointment within weeks. If there is a delay of more than a few weeks, ask your GP to contact the rheumatologist directly to request an earlier appointment.
Rheumatologist visit and tests
Your appointment with a rheumatologist will include:
- a review of your medical history, including your recent joint symptoms and family history
- a general physical examination
- a thorough examination of your joints, including counting of tender and swollen joints
- possibly an examination of your spine
- referral for further blood tests and imaging (eg, X-rays, ultrasound or MRI), if required.
It can take time to identify the exact cause of your symptoms and confirm a diagnosis.