Neurological Complications of Psoriatic Arthritis

Medically Reviewed By Nancy Carteron, M.D., FACR

Psoriatic arthritis can lead to neurological complications, or problems affecting the nerves, spinal cord, and brain. Neurological complications of psoriatic arthritis include nerve pain, migraine, and mobility problems. The term “neurological” refers to the body’s nervous system, which consists of the nerves, brain, and spinal cord.

With psoriatic arthritis, the same inflammation that affects the joints can sometimes affect parts of the nervous system. In some cases, psoriatic arthritis may also increase the risk for certain neurological conditions.

This article discusses the possible neurological complications of psoriatic arthritis and how to manage them.

Nerve pain

A clinician applies pressure to someones shoulder.
Photography by Daniel de la Hoz/Stocksy United

Nerve pain is one of the most common neurological complications of psoriatic arthritis. It results from damage or dysfunction of the nerves.

People often report nerve pain and a tingling, shooting, or burning sensation, known as paresthesia.

Nerve pain in psoriatic arthritis may occur Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source due to inflammation and swollen tissues around the joints, which can press on the nerves.

Learn more about nerve pain and neuropathy, including symptoms and treatment.

Treatment and management

Managing nerve pain typically involves Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source medication and lifestyle strategies.

Examples of medication for nerve pain include:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • antidepressants
  • anticonvulsant medications, such as gabapentin (Neurontin)

Lifestyle strategies to manage nerve pain include:

  • practicing physical therapy
  • getting regular physical activity
  • maintaining a moderate weight

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes:

Although psoriatic arthritis doesn’t directly cause fibromyalgia, the two conditions often occur Trusted Source Wiley Peer reviewed journal Go to source at the same time. Each condition may also worsen pain symptoms from the other due to overlapping inflammation.

Read more about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of fibromyalgia.

Treatment and management

Treatment approaches for fibromyalgia focus on managing pain, reducing inflammation, and improving quality of life. Treatment approaches may include Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source :

  • Medications: Pain relief medication, anticonvulsant medications, and antidepressants may help relieve pain and improve sleep.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy may enhance strength and flexibility, improving pain-related mobility problems.
  • Stress management: Techniques like mindfulness and meditation can help manage stress and its effect on symptoms.

Cognitive impairments

Sometimes, people with psoriatic arthritis experience problems with thinking, reasoning, or memory, known as cognitive impairments. For example, you may have a feeling of “brain fog,” or difficulty concentrating or thinking.

According to a 2021 study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , cognitive complications of psoriatic arthritis may be linked to widespread inflammation. 

Read more about mild cognitive impairment symptoms.

Treatment and management

Treatment and management approaches for cognitive impairments can vary based on your symptoms but may include:

  • working with your medical team to improve your psoriatic arthritis treatment and reduce cognitive impairments
  • using aids, such as reminders, calendars, and symptom trackers
  • working with an occupational therapist or other healthcare professional to adapt your lifestyle to your symptoms and help you find solutions
  • making sure you get enough good quality sleep
  • practicing relaxation and stress management techniques
  • getting regular physical activity
  • eating an anti-inflammatory diet, as recommended by a doctor or registered dietitian

Dizziness

Dizziness and vertigo may occur due to autoimmune activity in the inner ear cells causing inflammation. This may affect the vestibular system in the ear, which helps maintain balance.

Read more about dizziness and vertigo.

Treatment and management

Often, doctors treat dizziness and vertigo by addressing the underlying cause. For psoriatic arthritis, this may involve reviewing your current treatment plan and adjusting your medications.

Other strategies can include:

Learn more home remedies for vertigo.

Movement problems

Some people Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source may experience movement problems, such as restless legs syndrome.

Movement problems may also happen Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source due to nerve pain, joint damage, or enthesitis. Enthesitis is inflammation where the ligaments and tendons attach to the bones.

Read more about restless legs syndrome, including its treatment options.

Treatment and management

Healthcare professionals may recommend various treatment approaches, such as:

  • medications to reduce inflammation and relieve movement symptoms
  • physical activity to help maintain mobility and reduce stiffness
  • mobility aids and assistive devices, such as canes or braces, to provide support if you have trouble moving 

Seizures

If psoriatic arthritis causes immune dysfunction and inflammation in the central nervous system, you may have a higher risk of seizures.

Contact a doctor immediately if you have a seizure. Seizures can also happen due to other conditions that require urgent care.

Learn about seizure types, symptoms, and treatment options.

Treatment and management

Treatment for seizures related to psoriatic arthritis may include:

  • reviewing your current psoriatic arthritis treatment plan
  • taking antiseizure medications
  • using a symptom diary to track and monitor symptoms

Stroke

People with psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis may have a higher risk Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of developing stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. This is because widespread inflammation from psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis may increase the chances of developing a condition that can lead to heart problems, such as:

Treatment and management

To help reduce your risk Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of cardiovascular diseases like stroke, your medical team may recommend:

  • taking anti-inflammatory medications for psoriatic arthritis
  • following your recommended treatment plan for any other conditions you have, such as taking blood pressure medications for high blood pressure
  • eating a balanced diet according to your doctor’s or dietitian’s recommendations
  • getting regular physical activity
  • managing stress, such as with talk therapy or meditation

Read more about how to prevent a stroke.

Dementia

Chronic inflammation can increase the risk of dementia. A 2022 review of studies Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggests a possible link between psoriatic arthritis and neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.

See more about the causes, development, and treatment of dementia.

Treatment and management

Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications for psoriatic arthritis.

If you already have dementia, management approaches that may help include:

  • medications Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source that support cognitive function for dementia, such as acetyl-cholinesterase inhibitors
  • occupational therapy
  • memory exercises

Migraine

Migraine episodes are common Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source in people with autoimmune conditions like psoriatic arthritis, possibly due to inflammation.

Read more about the symptoms, treatment, and causes of migraine.

Treatment and management

Treatment options for migraine may include:

  • medication to prevent new migraine episodes
  • medication to relieve pain, like NSAIDs
  • a trigger and symptom diary

Mental health conditions

Psoriatic arthritis may lead to depression and anxiety, possibly due to the condition’s effects on quality of life and experiencing painful symptoms long term.

Read more about treatment for anxiety and depression.

Treatment and management

Treatment for mental health concerns and conditions depends on your individual situation but often includes:

  • counseling or psychotherapy
  • medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications
  • social support, such as local peer groups
  • lifestyle approaches, such as regular physical activity

Summary

Psoriatic arthritis may lead to neurological complications that affect the brain, nerves, and spinal cord. Often, this is due to the inflammation the condition causes.

Examples of neurological complications of psoriatic arthritis include nerve pain, migraine, and dizziness.

Talk with a doctor if you experience any new, persistent, or concerning symptoms alongside psoriatic arthritis.

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Medical Reviewer: Nancy Carteron, M.D., FACR
Last Review Date: 2024 Jun 14
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