Psoriatic Arthritis: 4 Treatments to Relieve Your Pain
While there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, treatment aims at relieving the patient's chronic pain and swelling while keeping joints working to prevent further damage.
More than 200,000 cases of psoriatic arthritis are reported each year. It’s a variation of arthritis affecting some people who have psoriasis—a topical skin condition characterized by red patches of skin topped with silvery scales. While incurable, the symptoms can be managed. Those suffering from this chronic disease will experience symptoms like painful joints, stiffness, and swelling. These may come and go, but many with the condition report that flare ups are particularly strong in the early morning hours of the day and subside as the day progresses.
Medications for Pain Management
Drugs used to treat psoriatic arthritis include:
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Examples: Advil, Motrin, and Aleve, etc. These over-the-counters reduce pain and inflammation and are often the first bottles pain sufferers seek out. They are generally safe for consumption with other medications, but some patients have seen worsening symptoms of psoriasis when used. Be sure to consult with your doctor on correct dosages.
Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
Examples: Trexall, Azulfidine These are often prescribed if NSAIDs aren't helping or arthritis becomes worse. Methotrexate (Trexall) is the most common drug used to treat psoriatic arthritis, though sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) is also prescribed. These drugs uptake into the body over the course of a few weeks and are used to slow or stop joint damage.
Examples: Humira, Enbrel, Remicade, Simponi Biologic drugs, or "biologics," are a subclass of DMARDS and are usually prescribed for unresponsive psoriatic arthritis. Like DMARDs, biologics may slow or stop joint damage and the progression of psoriatic arthritis. Humira and Enbrel must be injected once or twice a week. Remicade is an intravenous infusion that takes about two hours and has to be administered in a hospital or clinic every two to eight weeks.
Examples: Prednisone, Sterapred, cortisone (injections) These are a powerful class of immune-suppressing steroids (not to be confused with anabolic steroids). Prednisone cuts pain and swelling while Cortisone joint injections temporarily ease inflammation and painful swelling. Talk to your doctor about these drugs as repeated injections can weaken tissue, damage nerves, and trigger flares of pain. Over time, steroids can cause bone thinning, weight gain, and facial swelling.
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Once you’ve recognized and identified some of the symptoms that you may be having are consistent with psoriatic arthritis, your next step will be to see your physician. Before your appointment, the National Psoriasis Foundation recommends the following actions to help you and your doctor to have the most candid conversation about your symptoms and options...