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Psoriatic Arthritis

Treatments for Psoriatic Arthritis continued...

Another DMARD is Azulfidine, which is easier for many patients to tolerate than cyclosporine or methotrexate. Side effects include vomiting and nausea. Certain drugs used to prevent malaria, such as Plaquenil, can help with the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and they are sometimes prescribed for psoriatic arthritis. However, in some people, antimalarial drugs can cause psoriasis to flare up.

Your doctor may also recommend a short prescription of oral steroids to help clear acute joint pain, although steroids cannot be used safely for long periods of time. Stopping treatment with steroids suddenly can also cause a flare-up of symptoms. In the past, doctors sometimes recommended using gold salts, such as Myochrysine and Solganal, although their side effects and the development of more effective medications have made them much less popular in recent years.

  • Biologic therapy. The newest tools for treating psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are biologic medications. Four of these drugs have been approved to treat psoriatic arthritis -- Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, and Simponi. Biologic medications may make the immune system more susceptible to infections.
  • Phosphodieasterase-4 (PDE-4) inhibitor. Currently, Otezla is the only drug in this category FDA-approved to treat psoriatic arthritis. It's taken orally and side effects include diarrhea, nausea, weight loss, and depression.
  • Other treatments. Guided physical therapy, which can improve strength and flexibility, is often helpful for people with psoriatic arthritis. Using hot and cold packs can also make a difference because cold can numb pain and heat can relax muscles. You should also try to eat a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight, and get regular exercise, if possible. Do what you can to reduce stress, perhaps by practicing relaxation techniques.
  • Assistive devices. If your arthritis is making it difficult for you to do everyday things -- buttoning your shirt, opening a bottle, or getting up from a chair -- ask your doctor about assistive devices -- tools or gadgets that make common tasks easier for people with debilitating arthritis.

Although you may be tempted to try alternative medications to soothe the pain caused by psoriatic arthritis, remember that none have been proven effective in treating the condition. Because some alternative approaches -- including herbs, supplements, and therapeutic techniques -- can actually be dangerous or interact with other medications, it's important to check with your doctor before using them.

Psoriatic arthritis can be upsetting and potentially disabling. But regular treatment can often slow or even prevent its worst symptoms from developing. The key is to see a doctor early, since damage to the joints and bone can happen quickly. Never ignore chronic aches and pains in your joints, especially if you have already been diagnosed with psoriasis.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on May 24, 2014
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