4 Signs It's Time to Switch Psoriatic Arthritis Treatments
- Finding the right psoriatic arthritis treatment can be a process.Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which inflammation in the joints causes pain and swelling. The disease is linked with psoriasis, a skin disease involving inflammation that causes rough, dry skin patches. Most patients with psoriatic arthritis also experience symptoms of psoriasis and many patients with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis symptoms as well. In the past, psoriatic arthritis was difficult to control, but today we have effective ways of blocking inflammation, which helps patients to control their symptoms and prevent joint damage. However, even though there are many new treatment options available, it can require a trial of several medications before the best regimen is found for each patient. That’s why it’s so important to see your doctor regularly, so you can make adjustments if needed. If you’re experiencing any of the following issues, it might be time to talk to your doctor about trying something new.
- 1. Your symptoms are no longer controlled by pain relievers.Psoriatic arthritis exists on a spectrum–there are people with mild disease, moderate disease, and potentially disabling disease. Some people with mild disease do well with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen. Rheumatologists may prescribe prescription-level doses of these drugs. However, psoriatic arthritis often requires more intensive therapy.
- 2. Your medication hasn’t lowered joint inflammation or pain.A significant proportion of people with psoriatic arthritis respond well to drugs like methotrexate (Trexall) or sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), but if your disease is more severe, these medications may not prevent joint inflammation or relieve symptoms effectively. Fortunately, in the past few years, biologic medicines have come to the market, providing new alternatives for patients who need to step up their treatment. Known as biologics, these medicines are produced through specialized biologic process and are designed to target inflammation very specifically.
- 3. One medication isn’t enough to control your symptoms.Ideally, patients would only need one drug to treat psoriatic arthritis, but many patients end up needing a “cocktail” of medications. If symptoms aren’t well controlled with one medicine, ask your doctor if a combination may benefit you. For example, a patient with severe disease might need an NSAID plus methotrexate and a biologic medication. It wouldn’t be unusual for a patient with severe psoriatic arthritis to take three drugs, although we always prefer to minimize the number of medications an individual needs to use.
- 4. You can’t tolerate your medication’s side effects.In most cases, patients tolerate medication for psoriatic arthritis well, with little to no side effects. However, if you’re one of the unlucky ones who does experience side effects, it’s important to tell your doctor. There are many treatment options today, so we can make adjustments as necessary to find the right therapy for you. We’re living in an exciting era for treating psoriatic arthritis, as we continue to see new treatment options becoming available.
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