If you're one of the million Americans with psoriatic arthritis, you know the pain and discomfort the disease can bring. Fortunately, treatment options have come a long way since the 1950s, when psoriatic arthritis was first recognized as a unique form of arthritis.
To manage psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis symptoms, the most effective treatment includes both lifestyle changes and medication. The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends following a plan that includes exercise, healthy eating, and stress management.
The goal of psoriatic arthritis treatment is to reduce symptoms and prevent joint damage. Experts currently believe that pain and swelling are signs that joint damage is getting worse. So, your psoriatic arthritis symptoms are a good indication of the toll psoriatic arthritis is taking on your joints.
Medications Used to Treat Psoriatic Arthritis
There are a number of medications used for psoriatic arthritis treatment, including:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These are usually the first medicines used for psoriatic arthritis. They include both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and celecoxib (Celebrex). They may help reduce joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs): If you still have significant pain with NSAIDs, your doctor will prescribe one of these drugs. If you have severe psoriatic arthritis, your doctor may start off with a DMARD. They target the immune system and slow the progression of psoriatic arthritis. They are more powerful than NSAIDs but take longer to work. Among the DMARDs used for psoriatic arthritis treatment are methotrexate and sulfasalazine.
- Biologic drugs: These drugs target inflammation-causing substances that can lead to worsening of the disease. They can help reduce pain and keep the joint damage from getting worse. Etanercept (Enbrel), adalimumab (Humira), certolizumab pegol (Cimzia), infliximab (Remicade), and golimumab (Simponi) are examples.
- Phosphodieasterase-4 (PDE-4) inhibitor: Currently, Otezla is the only drug FDA-approved to treat psoriatic arthritis in this category. It's taken orally and side effects include diarrhea, nausea, weight loss, and depression.
- Corticosteroids: Steroids help reduce severe inflammation. They can be taken either by mouth or by injection. (These steroids act differently than anabolic steroids, which are used to build muscle.)