Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is inflammatory arthritis often associated with a skin condition called psoriasis. One PsA symptom is joint pain. It can also cause whole-body (systemic) symptoms such as vertigo and dizziness.
PsA is a chronic condition with no permanent cure. But there are several treatment options to help manage symptoms. Recognizing and treating PsA as soon as possible can help prevent symptoms such as dizziness from worsening or leading to long-term health problems.
In this article, we discuss PsA and dizziness. We also examine whether PsA causes dizziness and vertigo and the potential treatment options.
PsA may cause dizziness in some people.
While people often use the term dizziness interchangeably with vertigo, dizziness is a broad area that includes an array of sensations or feelings, such as:
- feeling unsteady or off-balance
- weakness in the limbs
- moments of lightheadedness or faintness
Other symptoms may accompany dizziness, such as nausea. Sudden movements or walking may make it worse.
There are many potential causes of dizziness, including:
- low blood pressure
- poor blood circulation
- low blood sugar or iron levels
- sudden movement
- inner ear problems
- other conditions, such as anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis
Systemic autoimmune disorders such as PsA may cause dizziness, unsteadiness, and vertigo. An autoimmune disease is when the body cannot differentiate between healthy cells and foreign bodies, so attacks itself.
There is evidence that PsA may cause damage to the inner ear, which could result in dizziness. One study concluded that individuals with PsA are more likely to experience dizziness, tinnitus, vertigo, and unsteadiness than those without the condition.
PsA and vertigo also appear to share a link. Vertigo differs from dizziness in a few ways. Symptoms of vertigo include:
- tilting of the room or surrounding objects
- swaying or spinning
- a floating sensation
As with dizziness, damage to the inner ear may impair a person’s balance, resulting in vertigo. Vertigo typically goes away without treatment. But individuals with PsA who experience vertigo may require treatment to help manage it.
A 2019 study of 60 individuals with PsA and its impact on hearing loss or impairment, dizziness, and vertigo concluded that approximately 23% of the people with PsA had balance problems. In addition, over half of the people with PsA exhibited signs of hearing loss or impairment.
Since PsA may damage the inner ear through immune-related inflammation, this could impact both balance and hearing. These findings are consistent with other research, which found that 60% of individuals with PsA have inner ear damage, balance issues, and significant hearing loss.
There are several treatments for vertigo and dizziness in people with PsA.
Research from 2011 suggests that one option is vestibular rehabilitation, an exercise-based program that aims to improve balance, increase stability, and limit the impact of dizziness in people.
Individuals with vertigo or dizziness may benefit from vestibular rehabilitation, especially when those symptoms result from autoimmune diseases, Ménière’s disease, stroke, or other conditions. Vestibular rehabilitation is an exercise-based form of treatment to aid balance. The exercises may decrease the severity of vertigo and dizziness but not entirely prevent it.
A doctor may also prescribe certain medications to help treat or manage dizziness or vertigo in people with PsA. Common options include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Over-the-counter medications include ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), but there are also prescription-strength options.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): In addition to slowing PsA down, these drugs help protect the joints from permanent damage. Common options include sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) and methotrexate (Trexall).
- Oral medications: Medications such as apremilast (Otezla) may help control a particular enzyme that causes cellular inflammation.
- Biologic response modifiers: This is another, newer type of DMARD.
Besides treatments a doctor recommends, a few self-care techniques may make it easier to manage PsA. These include:
- drinking enough fluids
- cutting back on foods that could lead to vertigo, such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and salt
- taking vitamin D supplements to combat any deficiencies
- taking part in moderate exercise such as yoga to help rebalance and counteract symptoms of vertigo
A person should always consult a doctor to determine the best treatment methods for dizziness and vertigo in PsA.
As an autoimmune disease, PsA commonly attacks the joints, skin, and organs. Besides dizziness and vertigo, other common symptoms of PsA include:
- swollen joints of the fingers or toes
- swollen tendons
- pain in the lower back, buttocks, or heels
- tenderness in the joints
- cracked or pitted nails
- stiffness in the body when sitting or lying down for extended periods
- fingernails separating from the nail bed
- fatigue or low-grade fever
- itchy skin or painful red patches on the elbows, knees, and scalp
The symptoms of PsA may be either moderate or severe, depending on the individual. Some symptoms may disappear on their own, while others require immediate treatment.
PsA can worsen without treatment. Individuals who have PsA and experience vertigo, dizziness, or other severe symptoms should consult a doctor as soon as possible to help prevent the symptoms from becoming worse.
A person should reach out to a doctor if they experience:
- difficulty walking
- severe dizziness or vertigo
- sudden hearing loss or impairment
- numbness in the arms, legs, or other joints
- falling or fainting
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing
- difficulty speaking clearly
- vision impairment
Individuals with dizziness or vertigo may also be more susceptible to other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease or stroke. Due to these risks, a person should speak with a doctor as soon as possible if they experience dizziness or vertigo to help prevent more significant health risks in the future.
Dizziness or vertigo may be symptoms of PsA because the condition could cause inflammation and damage to the inner ear. Without treatment, these and other symptoms could worsen, leading to other chronic health conditions or a higher mortality rate in individuals.
There is currently no cure for PsA. But vertigo and dizziness often disappear without treatment in a few days or weeks.
Individuals who experience other symptoms such as vision or hearing impairment, chest pain, or difficulty breathing along with vertigo or dizziness should consult a doctor immediately. A doctor may prescribe certain medications or a vestibular rehabilitation plan to help manage PsA symptoms.