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Treatment Options for Psoriatic Arthritis

written by: Harry Sylvester • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 9/20/2010

Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects someone to suffer from arthritis and psoriasis. Read on to learn about some psoriatic arthritis treatments along with their explanations.

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    Psoriatic Arthritis Overview

    Psoriasis, guttate on the cheek Psoriatic arthritis refers to an autoimmune disease affecting an individual to have both arthritis and psoriasis. An autoimmune disease is a disorder in which antibodies destroy the body tissues instead of attacking infection of the body. Arthritis is joint inflammation. Psoriasis is characterized by red skin with scales, joint pain, swelling, stiffness, reduced range of movement, and fatigue. A person might develop psoriasis first and then have psoriatic arthritis. The disease commonly affects any individual between the ages of 35 and 55, but any person might have it at any age. Both men and women are susceptible to suffer from this disease. Keep in mind that psoriatic arthritis is different from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Click on image to enlarge.

    The disease is hereditary. It does not necessarily mean you will have it if you have a family history of the disease, but you might have an increased risk of developing this. Environmental factors like bacterial or viral infection and physical trauma can exacerbate the disease, especially for those with an inherited tendency.

    If you are diagnosed with the disease, treatment can alleviate swelling and pain in addition to preventing joint damage and maintaining range of motion for the joint to move normally. Below are several psoriatic arthritis treatments which are available to preserve the range of motion:

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    Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

    These agents, which include over-the-counter drugs like Motrin, Advil (ibuprofen) and aspirin, can reduce inflammation, pain, stiffness, and swelling. However, you should consult your doctor to make sure which medications are efficacious to you. Your doctor may recommend taking Acetaminophen (Tylenol) to allay pain, but it does not reduce inflamed areas. Side effects of all NSAIDs include heart failure, fluid retention, and damage to the kidneys. In addition, NSAIDs can result in inflammation in your intestine if taken frequently. These drugs are more likely to be effective in alleviating symptoms of those with minor joint pain.

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    Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)

    These drugs can block joint and tissue damage as the disease progresses in addition to allaying pain and lessening inflammation. They include methotrexate. Because the onset of action of DMARDs is slow, you might not see the effectiveness of these medications for short period. Aspirin is usually prescribed to help alleviate pain. Beware of having liver problems, lung disease, upset stomach, and sore mouth after taking these drugs.

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    Traditional Systemic Drugs

    They include Methotrexate, Cyclosporine, Retinoids, and Sulfasalazine. Those medications are helpful to treat the disease, especially for preventing joint damage and improving the healing effects. Side effects that may occur include abdominal pain, fever, dizziness, liver damage, and renal damage.

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    Biologic Drugs or TNF-Alpha Inhibitors

    TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor-alpha) inhibitors are recommended if you have severe psoriatic arthritis. These agents include Humira, Remicade, Enbrel, and Simponi. They are administered by injection. All can obstruct and prevent the protein leading to inflammation. However, not everyone can afford these medicines because of their expensive price. In addition, these drugs can pose some dangerous risks.

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    Surgery

    Surgical procedure is only performed if other medical treatments cannot treat the disease. Surgery can help you activate joints despite having medical treatments. It includes surgery to remove severely inflamed tendons and a hip or knee replacement.

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    Summary

    There are several options to treat this disease including oral medication, injection, and surgery. Each treatment has its own advantages and disadvantages. Consult your doctor so that he may give you information on the benefits you will receive and the risks you will have.

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    References

    Psoriasis.org: Treating Psoriatic Arthritis - http://www.psoriasis.org/netcommunity/sublearn02_treat

    Medicinenet.com: Psoriatic Arthritis - http://www.medicinenet.com/psoriatic_arthritis/article.htm

    MayoClinic.com: Psoriatic Arthritis - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/psoriatic-arthritis/DS00476

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    Photo Credit

    Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.