Dactylitis, sometimes referred to as “sausage fingers and toes,” may signal more severe psoriatic arthritis, a new study reports. Characterized by swelling of the digits, dactylitis is a common symptom of PsA — and one that should not be ignored.
“Our study confirmed that dactylitis is a marker of disease severity,” Dr. Helena Marzo-Ortega, a consultant rheumatologist and senior author on the study, told MyPsoriasisTeam. “It is associated with more underlying joint inflammation and damage when we use ultrasound, but it may not be readily visible to the naked eye.”
Although the swelling may not cause pain, cautioned Dr. Marzo-Ortega, people shouldn’t ignore the symptom, as it could predict bone damage down the road.
“Previous studies performed years ago already showed that in the long run, dactylitis is associated with bone damage,” Dr. Marzo-Ortega said. “So taken together, this suggests that people with psoriasis who develop sausage fingers or toes should not ignore these, even if they don’t hurt. They are advised to consult with their [general practitioner] or dermatologist in order to get referred to a rheumatologist for further assessment and treatment.”
In the study, researchers in the UK recruited 177 people with early-stage PsA who had not yet begun treatment. They looked at signs of severe disease in people with and without dactylitis. About half of the people in the study had dactylitis.
The study authors reported that people with dactylitis:
All of these factors have previously been linked to more severe PsA. They may be signs that a person would benefit from taking medication, such as a biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD).