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Deb Gordon

Deborah D. Gordon has spent her career trying to level the playing field for healthcare consumers. She is co-founder of Umbra Health Advocacy, a marketplace for patient advocacy services, and co-director of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, the premiere membership organization for independent advocates. She is the author of "The Health Care Consumer's Manifesto: How to Get the Most for Your Money," based on consumer research she conducted as a senior fellow in the Harvard Kennedy School's Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. Deb previously spent more than two decades in healthcare leadership roles, including chief marketing officer for a Massachusetts health plan and CEO of a health technology company. Deb is an Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow, an Eisenhower Fellow and a Boston Business Journal 40-under-40 honoree. Her contributions have appeared in JAMA Network Open, the Harvard Business Review blog, USA Today, RealClear Politics, The Hill and Managed Care Magazine. She earned a BA in bioethics from Brown University and an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School.

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Get the Facts About Psoriatic Arthritis

Get the Facts About Psoriatic Arthritis

Know your risks and options so you can navigate this diagnosis

Created With Support

Medically reviewed by Dr. Stuart Kaplan

What Is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a form of arthritis, a condition where the immune system attacks healthy tissue and causes joint pain, stiffness and swelling.

The causes of PsA aren’t completely known. It’s often inherited but can also be triggered by infection, such as strep throat.


  • Joint pain
  • Swollen fingers and toes
  • Foot pain, including in the heel (Achilles tendinitis) or sole of the foot (plantar fasciitis)
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Morning joint stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Eye pain and redness
  • Tendon pain and tenderness
  • Pitting (dents) or other nail changes

Don’t wait to seek help if you have any of these signs of PsA. Early diagnosis can help protect joints and relieve painful symptoms.

Risk factors

  • Family history: About 40% of people with PsA have family members with psoriasis or arthritis.
  • Psoriasis: Nearly 1/3 of people with psoriasis, a condition that causes itchy, scaly skin patches, have PsA. Not everyone with psoriasis gets PsA, and not everyone with PsA has psoriasis first or at all.
  • Age: PsA is most common among people ages 30 to 50.
  • Lifestyle: Obesity, alcohol use and smoking can increase risks or make PsA worse.

Diagnosing PsA

Rheumatologists are doctors who treat diseases that affect muscles, bones, joints, ligaments and tendons — conditions that used to be called “rheumatism.” They can diagnose PsA in several ways, including:

  • Physical exam — Healthcare providers can detect joint swelling or tenderness and/or nail ridges or nails that are separating from the nail bed, all signs that may indicate PsA.
  • Imaging — X-rays, MRI, ultrasound or CT scans can help doctors find swollen joints or patterns of arthritis.
  • Blood tests — Blood tests can show signs of inflammation or anemia, which can signal PsA. They can also rule out gout, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, which can cause symptoms similar to PsA.
  • Skin tests — Taking small skin samples (or biopsies) can confirm a PsA diagnosis.

Treating and managing PsA

  • Over-the-counter painkillers (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) for mild PsA
  • Antirheumatic and other medications (some of which are infused or injected) for more severe disease
  • Physical activity such as walking, biking, yoga, stretching or swimming to maintain mobility
  • Physical and occupational therapy to strengthen muscles and protect joints from future damage

This resource was created with support from Bristol Myers Squibb.


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