Understanding the 5 Types of Psoriatic Arthritis

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with psoriasis, a skin condition characterized by red, scaly patches, it’s important to be aware of a related condition called psoriatic arthritis (PsA). PsA is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects joints and can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. There are five primary types of psoriatic arthritis, each with its own characteristics and patterns of joint involvement. By understanding these types, you can better recognize the signs and symptoms and seek appropriate treatment.

1. Symmetric Psoriatic Arthritis

The most common type of psoriatic arthritis is symmetric PsA. As the name suggests, this type affects joints on both sides of the body symmetrically. If you have symmetric PsA, you may experience pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints like the wrists, knees, and ankles. It can resemble rheumatoid arthritis but is typically milder.

2. Asymmetric Psoriatic Arthritis

Unlike symmetric PsA, asymmetric PsA affects joints on one side of the body only. It can involve different joints on each side, causing pain, inflammation, and limited mobility. Asymmetric PsA commonly affects the fingers, toes, knees, and ankles. This type is usually mild and doesn’t cause the same degree of joint damage as symmetric PsA.

3. Distal Interphalangeal Predominant (DIP) Psoriatic Arthritis

DIP PsA primarily affects the joints closest to the nails in the fingers and toes. It can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in these joints, and may also lead to nail changes such as pitting or separation. DIP PsA is more common in people with a family history of psoriatic arthritis.

4. Spondylitis

Spondylitis PsA primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints, which connect the spine to the pelvis. It can cause lower back pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. In some cases, spondylitis PsA can also involve other joints and the connective tissues surrounding them. It’s important to note that spondylitis PsA may not always be present alongside skin symptoms.

5. Arthritis Mutilans

Arthritis mutilans is a severe and rare form of psoriatic arthritis. It can lead to significant joint damage and deformity. This type primarily affects the small joints in the hands and feet. Arthritis mutilans causes bone resorption, leading to joint instability and the characteristic “pencil-in-cup” appearance on X-rays.


Psoriatic arthritis is a complex condition with different types that can vary in symptoms and joint involvement. By familiarizing yourself with the five types of psoriatic arthritis, you can have a better understanding of your condition or recognize potential signs if you suspect you may have PsA. If you experience joint pain, swelling, or skin changes, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options tailored to your specific type of psoriatic arthritis.