Psoriatic arthritis affects some people who are afflicted with psoriasis. Psoriasis is a condition that features symptoms of red patches of skin with silvery scales on top. Psoriatic arthritis usually develops after someone has had psoriasis for awhile. However, joint problems sometimes occur before any lesions appear.
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, affecting any part of the body. The pain can range from mild to severe. Both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis frequently feature flare-ups that alternate with states of remission.
Because no cure currently exists for psoriatic arthritis, treatment centers on controlling symptoms and preventing joint damage.
Treatment options relieve pain, reduce swelling and help keep joints working, sometimes preventing further damage. Your doctor will recommend a treatment specific to the severity of your psoriatic arthritis and its severity.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
These medications relieve pain and reduce inflammation. They can improve the range of motion in your joints. Over-the-counter options include ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). If you need a stronger option there are NSAIDs available by prescription. Side effects of NSAIDs can include stomach irritation (ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding), liver and kidney damage, and heart problems.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
Drugs that slow the progression of psoriatic arthritis to save joints and other tissues from permanent damage. Antimalarials are one such DMARD. Antimalarials are usually given as pills and can take months to show results. Side effects include vision changes, headache, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Antimalarials can cause psoriasis to worsen. Other DMARDs can have side effects of liver damage, bone marrow suppression, and severe lung infections.
Medications that tame your immune system. These medications can have the side effect of increasing your susceptibility to infection.
Relatively new in the world of psoriatic arthritis, oral treatment options target molecules inside your immune cells. They correct the operative immune response that causes inflammation, leading to improvement in joint tenderness and swelling.
Otezla is one such oral treatment for psoriatic arthritis. It improves tenderness and swelling in people with active psoriatic arthritis. It must be taken continuously to maintain any improvements.
Your body produces an inflammatory substance, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). TNF-alpha inhibitors reduce pain, morning stiffness, and tender or swollen joints. Side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, hair loss and increased risk of infection.
Surgical procedures and injections
Joint replacement surgery may be required for those whose joints have been damaged severely by psoriatic arthritis. In the surgery, joints are replaced with artificial prostheses made of metal or plastic.
Steroid injections are administered to reduce inflammation in affected joints.
Complementary and alternative therapies
Many patients look to non-traditional therapies that focus on preventative care and pain management. Therapies include diet, herbs and supplements, mind/body treatment such as yoga and meditation, and physical therapies such as exercise and acupuncture.
If you’re interested in pursuing complementary therapy options it’s a good idea to consult with a naturopath. Licensed naturopathic doctors use natural therapies to promote wellbeing in their patients’ lives.