Psoriatic arthritis treatment has come a long way since doctors first recognized the condition in the 1950s. These days, your doctor can help you figure out how to ease symptoms and prevent joint damage.
Your plan probably will involve medicine, exercise, a healthy diet, and stress management.
There are medicines that treat psoriatic arthritis. Your doctor will decide exactly what you need. It may take some time to find the drugs that work best for you.
If you’ve noticed any of the following things, let your doctor know. They’ll look for solutions that’ll help you feel better.
1. Side Effects Bother You
Many meds that treat psoriatic arthritis make a big difference, but they all have risks.
For instance, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like naproxen or ibuprofen) can make stomach irritation and bleeding more likely. Methotrexate, which is prescribed for many types of arthritis, can damage the liver. And because medicines called biologics work on your immune system, they can make serious infections more likely.
Let your doctor know if you have side effects from your medication.
2. Your Symptoms Make Your Job or Daily Life Hard
This can mean different things for different people.
If you're a college professor and your treatment gets rid of all your symptoms except two swollen finger joints, you might be OK with that. But if you're a concert violinist who relies on those joints for a living, those same symptoms could be a show-stopper.
Tell your doctor what you need to keep up with your day-to-day activities.
3. You Don’t Feel Any Better
Some drugs may take a few weeks before you start to feel an improvement. So give your medicine a chance to help.
But let your doctor know if your symptoms don’t improve or they get worse. They’ll figure out what’s best for you.
4. You’re Extremely Tired
This is a common side effect of psoriatic arthritis. It’s also a side effect of many meds that treat it. Your condition may also cause anemia, which leads to fatigue.
If you feel more tired than usual, tell your doctor so they can find out what’s causing it and how to fix it.
5. The Psoriasis You See on Your Skin Is Still There
Ask your doctor if there’s a medicine you can put on your skin to help.
6. Certain Joints, Especially Your Knees, Are Still Swollen or Painful
You might need a corticosteroid shot to ease inflammation in a specific joint. Physical therapy also helps.
Even if your joints feel less sore, it’s important to keep track of swelling and inflammation. It can mean your joints are being harmed. If the swelling doesn’t go down after you’ve taken your meds for a while, ask your doctor what else you can do to prevent more damage.
7. You Have a Joint That Isn’t Improving
In some cases, your condition can cause extreme joint damage. If this happens to you, your doctor may suggest surgery to repair it.
8. You're Depressed
Psoriatic arthritis and all that comes with it can affect your mood. If you’ve felt down for more than a few weeks, tell your doctor. They can tell you how you can start feeling like yourself again. This may include talking with a professional counselor and, in some cases, taking medicine.
9. Your Symptoms Go Away (Called Remission)
Your symptoms will come and go, so you may be able to take less medication when you’re feeling better. Ask your doctor about taking a drug holiday. Don't stop taking medication on your own.
American College of Rheumatology.
National Psoriasis Foundation.
Philip Mease, MD, Seattle Rheumatology Associates.
John Hardin, MD, chief scientific officer, Arthritis Foundation; professor of medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City.
Mark Lebwohl, MD, professor and chairman of dermatology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center.
Tilling, L. Clinical Drug Investigation, 2006.