Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) affects roughly equal numbers of men and women. However, there are some differences in symptoms, quality of life, and treatment outcomes.
PsA is a type of arthritis that can develop in people with psoriasis. It affects approximately 20% of people with psoriasis, according to one 2019 review of studies. Some people develop PsA before psoriasis.
PsA affects men and women at similar rates. However, there are some differences in how the condition tends to affect them.
This article explores what is currently known about the differences and similarities in how PsA affects men and women.
PsA can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
- back pain, stiffness, and swelling
- painfully swollen fingers or toes
- heel or foot pain
Some studies suggest that PsA tends to affect different joints in men and women.
PsA was more likely to affect peripheral joints in women. These include joints in the arms, hands, legs, and feet.
PsA was more likely to affect axial joints in men. These include joints in the spine, as well as the sacroiliac joints that connect the spine to the hips.
According to a 2012 review of studies, older research has found similar results. The authors reported that women tend to develop peripheral polyarthritis, while men are more likely to develop axial arthritis.
PsA can limit a person’s ability to carry out activities in their day-to-day life. This is known as functional impairment.
In a 2015 study, researchers found that, on average, women with the condition tended to report higher levels of pain and fatigue. Women also tended to report more functional limitations, including at work.
The authors of a 2019 study found similar results. Women with PsA reported higher levels of:
- functional limitation
- work disability
- fatigue and pain
More research is necessary to learn why symptoms and impairment differ between men and women with PsA.
Treatment goals for PsA typically focus on:
- slowing the progression of the condition
- reducing the symptoms
- improving quality of life
Treatments for PsA include:
- disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen
- oral or injected corticosteroids
- occupational or physical therapy
- certain lifestyle changes
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors are types of biologic DMARD. The American College of Rheumatology and National Psoriasis Foundation recommend TNF inhibitors as the first-line treatment for active PsA.
However, one 2018 study found that TNF inhibitors are more effective in men than women. Doctors may prescribe another type of DMARD if TNF inhibitors do not work.
A person should talk with a doctor if they do not believe that their treatment plan is working well for them. The doctor may adjust their medication regimen or recommend other treatments.
Men and women develop PsA at similar rates. However, the condition tends to affect them in different ways.
Women with PsA are more likely to develop arthritis symptoms in multiple joints in their arms, hands, legs, and feet. Men are more likely to develop pain, swelling, and stiffness in their back.
Women tend to report higher levels of pain, fatigue, and functional impairment. The symptoms of PsA are more likely to interfere with their daily life, including their work.
More research is necessary to better understand what accounts for these differences. Having a greater understanding of these differences may help doctors tailor their treatment approaches to improve outlooks for men and women with PsA.