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This site is intended for US residents.
UCBCares® 1-844-599-CARE

Psoriatic arthritis dictionary

Becoming familiar with words and phrases related to psoriatic arthritis will help you talk to your health care providers about the disease and the steps you can take to help manage it.

Anemia: Abnormally low levels of healthy red blood cells or of hemoglobin (the component that carries oxygen).

Anticyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP): Anticyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies are highly specific for the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and may be found in a few people who have psoriatic arthritis (PsA).

Antinuclear antibodies (ANAs): Antibodies (proteins produced by white blood cells that normally recognize and combat infectious organisms in the body) that mistakenly identify normal, naturally occurring proteins in our bodies as being "foreign." ANAs can signal the body to begin attacking itself, which can lead to autoimmune disease (see autoimmune disease).

Anti-tumor necrosis factor agents: Medications that work by blocking a pro-inflammatory protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha in the body (see tumor necrosis factor-alpha).

Arthritis: Inflammation of one or more joints. There are over 100 kinds of arthritis.

Autoimmune disease: A condition caused by the immune system attacking healthy cells or tissues in the body by mistake.

Biologics: Substances originating from a living source that are used to treat disease. Biologic agents block proteins involved with inflammation in the body.

Cartilage: A tough but flexible connective tissue that covers the ends of bones at a joint. It also protects bones by preventing them from rubbing against each other. When injured, inflamed, or damaged, cartilage can cause pain and limited movement.

Conjunctivitis: Inflammation or infection of the membrane lining the eyelids (conjunctiva) and covering the visible part of the eye.

Connective tissue: Material inside the body that supports many of its parts, gives tissues their shape, and helps keep them strong. Cartilage and fat are examples of connective tissue (see cartilage).

Corticosteroid (steroid) injections: Injections of medication that mimic the effects of hormones made by the adrenal glands to fight stress associated with illnesses and injuries. Corticosteroid injections are used to reduce inflammation.

C-reactive protein (CRP): A protein made by the liver. High CRP levels in the blood are a sign of inflammation.

Dactylitis: Refers to inflammation/swelling of an entire finger or toe ("sausage digits"). It is the result of inflammation of the small joints and enthesitis of the surrounding tendons. Dactylitis is one of the distinguishing features of psoriatic arthritis (see enthesitis).

Disease Activity Score (DAS): An assessment of disease activity and change of disease activity with therapy in psoriatic arthritis and other diseases.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): Drugs that work in different ways to reduce inflammation in rheumatic diseases.

Enthesitis: Inflammation of entheses (sites where ligaments, tendons, and fascia attach to bone).

Erosion: The wearing away or destruction of the surface of a tissue, material, or structure. One of the most frequent causes of local bone erosion is arthritis.

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR): A test that indirectly measures how much inflammation is in the body by documenting how long it takes red blood cells (erythrocytes) to fall to the bottom of a tall, thin tube. ESR is often higher than normal in people with an autoimmune disorder.

Extra-articular manifestations: Complications of arthritis that affect parts of the body other than the joints. The most common extra-articular manifestations in PsA include eye inflammation (see uveitis) and skin disease.

Flares, flare-ups: An increase in the severity of a person's clinical disease symptoms.

GALS (gait, arms, legs, and spine) screen: An examination that screens for signs and symptoms of arthritis.

Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (HAQ-DI): A tool used to measure a person's ability to function physically.

Imaging tests: Imaging using technologies that allow doctors to look inside your body for clues about a medical condition. A variety of machines and techniques (including X-rays, ultrasound, MRIs, and CT scans) can create pictures of the structures and activities inside your body. The type of imaging your doctor uses depends on your symptoms and the part of your body being examined (see joint X-ray, radiography, MRI).

Immune-mediated disease: A condition that results from abnormal activity of the body's immune system. This includes autoimmune disorders, immunodeficiency disorders, and excessive immune responses (such as an allergic reaction).

Immune system: The system of the body that involves the cells and biochemical processes responsible for defending against foreign substances, such as infections.

Inflammation: A reaction of body tissues to injury or disease, marked by five potential signs: swelling, redness, heat, pain, and loss of function.

Inflammatory bowel disease: Diseases marked by inflammation of the bowel. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are inflammatory bowel diseases. Crohn's disease tends to affect the small intestine, although any part of the digestive tract may be involved. Ulcerative colitis usually causes an inflammation in all or part of the large intestine. People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often have diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and weight loss.

Joint: Where two or more bones come together, like the knee, hip, elbow, or shoulder. Joints can be damaged by many types of injuries or diseases, including arthritis.

Joint aspiration: A procedure using a needle to withdraw fluid from a joint for testing. Joint aspiration is usually done to assist diagnosis and treatment. Drainage of a large joint can also provide pain relief and improved mobility.

Joint X-ray: A noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions involving a joint. Imaging a joint with X-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation in order to produce pictures of the inside of that body part.

Morning stiffness: Joint and muscle stiffness that is present on awakening. Morning stiffness is associated with various types of inflammatory arthritis.

Lifestyle modification: Nondrug strategies to potentially reduce symptoms. Also called behavior modification, this includes changes in lifestyle such as eating a healthier diet, smoking cessation, and appropriate exercise.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A technique that uses electromagnetic energy to produce images of the organs and tissues such as those in the central nervous and musculoskeletal systems.

Maintenance therapy: A therapy given to maintain a gradual process of healing or to prevent a relapse.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): A class of drugs that may relieve symptoms of inflammation like pain and swelling. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are examples of NSAIDs.

Occupational therapy: A form of treatment that involves changing a person's environment or the way that he or she completes daily tasks to increase the ability to function independently and to prevent further disability.

Oligoarticular psoriatic arthritis: A pattern of PsA that involves more than 1 but fewer than 5 different joints on each side of the body.

Peripheral arthritis: A pattern of arthritis that (in PsA) usually affects the large joints of the arms and legs, including the elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. The discomfort may be "migratory," moving from one joint to another.

Physical therapy: Rehabilitation to help improve strength, mobility, and fitness.

Polyarticular psoriatic arthritis: A pattern of psoriatic arthritis affecting 5 or more joints.

Psoriatic arthritis: A condition involving joint inflammation (arthritis) that usually occurs in combination with a skin disorder called psoriasis.

Psoriatic nail disease: Changes in the fingernails and toenails associated with psoriasis, such as nails that become pitted or ridged, crumble, or separate from the nail beds.

Radiographic progression: Evidence of advancing joint disease as measured by serial imaging with X-ray (see radiography).

Radiography: The examination of any part of the body by means of X-ray images on photographic film.

Remission: A period of time when signs or symptoms of a disease are minimal or absent.

Rheumatoid factor: An antibody that is present eventually in the blood of most people with rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatologist: A physician who specializes in rheumatology and diagnoses (detects), treats, and medically manages patients with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.

Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3 (RAPID3): An assessment of the severity and progression of disease calculated by using patient-reported measures of physical function, pain, and estimate of overall health. The RAPID3 can be scored in fewer than 10 seconds and is informative in patients with rheumatic diseases.

Sacroiliitis: Inflammation of one or both of the sacroiliac joints (where the lower spine and pelvis connect). Sacroiliitis can cause pain in the buttocks or lower back and may extend down one or both legs.

Spondyloarthritis: A family of inflammatory rheumatic diseases that cause arthritis. The most common is ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

Spondyloarthropathies: Diseases of the joints and spine. Most commonly affected are the lower extremities, sacroiliac joint, and hip.

Synovial membrane: Tissue lining and enclosing a joint.

Synovitis: Inflammation of the joint lining (the synovium).

Tendons: Fibrous connective tissue which attaches muscle to bone. Tendons may also attach muscles to structures such as the eyeball. A tendon serves to move the bone or structure.

Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α): An inflammation-causing cytokine (a type of small protein important in cell signaling) that is implicated in a variety of diseases, including autoimmune diseases.

Ultrasound: A technique that uses sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Ultrasound images can help healthcare providers to make diagnoses.


Biologics, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) blockers. National Psoriasis Foundation (Medical Board). treatments/biologics. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Brezinski EA. Strategies to maximize treatment success in moderate to severe psoriasis: establishing treatment goals and tailoring of biologic therapies. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery (SEMIN CUTAN MED SURG). June 2014; 33(2):91-97. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Carey WD. Psoriatic arthritis. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010.

Dejaco C, et al. Disparity between ultrasound and clinical findings in psoriatic arthritis. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. early/2013/06/04/annrheumdis-2012-203073. May 2013. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Emery P, Ash Z. Psoriatic arthritis. American College of Rheumatology (ACR). Conditions/Psoriatic_Arthritis/. September 2012. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, et al. Psoriatic arthritis. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 77.

Hammadi A, Diamond H, Badsha H, et al. Psoriatic arthritis. Medscape. April 2014. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Johnson S, et al. Autoantibodies in biological agent naive patients with psoriatic arthritis. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2005;64:770-772. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Lee S. The Burden of Psoriatic Arthritis: A Literature Review from a Global Health Systems Perspective. P&T (Pharmacy and Therapeutics). ed/?term=The+Burden+of+Psoriatic+Arthritis+Seina+Lee. December 2010; 35(12): 680-9. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Mease PJ. Psoriatic arthritis assessment tools in clinical trials. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2005; 64:ii49-ii54. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Measures of Psoriatic Arthritis. Arthritis Care & Research. November 2011. Accessed August 5, 2014. Pain management for psoriatic arthritis. National Psoriasis Foundation (Medical Board). Accessed August 5, 2014.

Pincus T. Can a multi-dimensional health assessment questionnaire (MDHAQ) and routine assessment of patient index data (RAPID) scores be informative in patients with all rheumatic diseases? Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology. August 2007; 21(4):733-53. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Wong P, et al. Measuring disease activity in psoriatic arthritis. International Journal of Rheumatology. November 2012. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 839425. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Psoriasis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. October 2013. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Scheinfeld N. Psoriatic Arthritis Imaging. Medscape. February 2014. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Serrate-Sztein S, Katz S, Reveille J. Roundtable Discussion on Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). February 2007. Accessed August 5, 2014

Starkebaum G. Psoriatic arthritis. MedlinePlus. August 2014. Accessed August 5, 2014.

SYSTEMIC MEDICATIONS for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis including biologics and new oral treatments. National Psoriasis Foundation. Document.Doc?id=161. May 2014. Accessed August 5, 2014.

Tests to Confirm the Diagnosis. National Psoriasis Foundation. Accessed August 5, 2014.

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