Psoriasis Disease: Why Some Symptoms Are Overlooked

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By David Chandler as told to Kara Mayer Robinson

I’ve seen hiccups from being diagnosed with psoriasis disease. I know it first hand too. I am 62 years old and have had psoriasis since I was a teenager.

I got it for the first time when I was 15. Not too long after that, when I was 17, I started having lower back pain. I had appointments, doctor visits and tests for years, but it wasn’t until I was 30 that I discovered that psoriasis disease had affected my joints.

Once, when my psoriasis flared up, I decided to see a dermatologist. They realized I had arthritis and then referred me to a rheumatologist. It was then that I found out that I had psoriasis, which affected my joints. So it took more than 10 years to get a proper diagnosis when I started having symptoms.

My doctor did not link my skin problems to my joint problems.

If you have psoriasis, the sooner you get an accurate diagnosis, the better. In my case, the slow diagnosis meant I didn’t get the right treatment right away. This left me with joint changes and fused bones, mostly in my feet, back and neck. Early diagnosis might have helped me avoid the resulting disability.

With psoriasis, it is common for symptoms to be overlooked and diagnoses to take a long time. Symptoms often go unreported or overlooked for a variety of reasons.

I have learned that this is often due to a lack of awareness of the connection between skin and joint involvement. You can think of skin lesions as an external disease and joint inflammation as an internal disease. But actually they are both autoimmune diseases related to your immune system.

Why Psoriasis Disease Symptoms Are Overlooked

It’s common to misunderstand skin problems. You may think you have dandruff when it’s actually scalp psoriasis. It’s also common not to report problems with your nails, which may be nail psoriasis. Your medical record may reflect dry skin or eczema. When seeing a new doctor, you may not think to ask about any signs or symptoms of psoriasis.

You may also not think that symptoms like joint pain, swelling, and fatigue have anything to do with your skin problems. This is especially common in younger people who are less likely to believe that joint pain can happen to them.

It’s best to tell your doctor about any symptoms you’re having.

Other reasons why symptoms are missed

Psoriasis symptoms are also not reported as they can often be vague. Test results or X-rays may show nothing. What you feel doesn’t seem to change much over time. You may dismiss or doubt your symptoms because they are not obvious or consistent.

Symptoms can also be intermittent – they can come and go. If you go to the doctor if things like joint pain or swelling don’t appear, you might not think to tell your doctor about it.

What you can do

Report all symptoms to your doctor, regardless of whether you think they are related to your psoriasis. Make sure you take into account symptoms you’ve had before, even if you don’t have them, when you go to your appointment.

Think about your family history. Do family members have medical conditions that may have been misdiagnosed? Do you have symptoms that could be related to psoriasis?

Remember that psoriasis skin symptoms are a visible sign that something is wrong with your immune system. So it’s possible that you have other problems, like joint pain and fatigue. If you’ve had these, talk to your doctor about the possibility of psoriasis.


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Psoriasis Disease: Why Some Symptoms Are Overlooked
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