Psoriatic Arthritis vs. Lupus: What Are the Differences?
I found out first-hand how the diagnosis of an autoimmune disease can be painful and complicated. It takes time – and a lot of tests and exams – to get the definitive verdict. And it is not unusual even for medical professionals to mistake some of these diseases. Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), simply referred to as lupus, are commonly confused.
These two conditions share many symptoms, including joint pain and skin symptoms. But they also have many differences and ways to tell them apart.
It is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the joints and the entheses—the places where tendons and ligaments connect to bone. It is common in people with the inflammatory skin disease psoriasis. In PsA, there are no abnormal autoantibodies production, but the inflammatory processes are overactive. It is considered immune mediated.
Psoriatic arthritis is considered a type of inflammatory arthritis because joint inflammation occurs as a result of an overactive immune that affects many joints throughout the body at once. The most common symptom of PsA is joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Additional common symptoms of PsA are:
- Chronic fatigue;
- Joint stiffness in the morning and after periods of inactivity;
- Heel and foot pain from enthesitis;
- Knee, hip, elbow, and chest pain;
- Skin symptoms, with or without psoriasis;
- Eye inflammation, including uveitis, which causes eye redness and pain, blurred or cloudy vision, and sensitivity to light.
It is an autoimmune disease in which the body produces abnormal antibodies (autoantibodies) that mistakenly attack the body’s own tissues. Lupus is an inflammatory condition that causes inflammation and pain throughout your body. People with lupus experience joint pain, skin sensitivities, rashes, and problems with their internal organs.
Both of these diseases cause inflammation throughout the body, as well as arthritis (joint pain and swelling). In PsA, the arthritis is erosive, leading to loss of bone and cartilage. In lupus, the arthritis is not erosive.
The symptoms of lupus usually come and go. The condition flares up (symptoms worsen) and sometimes goes into remission (periods when it improves). Lupus symptoms might include:
- Muscle and joint pain;
- Hair loss;
- Chest pain;
- Sun or light sensitivity;
- Kidney problems;
- Mouth ulcers;
- Chronic fatigue;
- Blood clotting;
- Brain fog;
- Eye problems.
To clarify, here´s a frame designed by Very Well Health with both diseases symptoms listed:
There is no single test that can confirm PsA or lupus, but doctors will employ different testing methods to determine the source of your symptoms.
Each condition has diagnostic criteria that are used in classification. The classification criteria for psoriatic arthritis (CASPAR) may be used for psoriatic arthritis. The 2019 joint European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and American College of Rheumatology (ACR) classification criteria may be used for SLE.
Psoriatic arthritis and lupus are both autoimmune conditions that affect the skin and joints. While they share some similar symptoms, they are separate conditions. It is possible to have both conditions because their disease processes are similar.
Once a diagnosis can be confirmed, both PsA and lupus can be treated and managed effectively. They are both lifelong conditions, and neither can be cured. If either of these conditions runs in your family, talk to your doctor about your specific risk and what you can do to reduce it.
If you are diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis or lupus, make sure you check in with your doctor regularly. These conditions need to be treated aggressively so that you do not experience disease complications.
Both PsA and lupus affect your organs, so it is a good idea to discuss your risk for other conditions, what symptoms to watch out for, and preventive measures to take. With the help of a rheumatologist or other specialists, you can manage PsA or lupus successfully. Managing your condition can improve your outlook and quality of life.