Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment

...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!

Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment:
No cure exists for psoriatic arthritis. Your doctor works to control inflammation in your affected joints in order to prevent joint pain and disability. This is usually accomplished with medications and, rarely, surgery.

    . . . Medications
    Medications commonly used for psoriatic arthritis treatment include:
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs Drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) may help control pain, swelling and morning stiffness. Prescription NSAIDs provide higher potencies than do over-the-counter drugs. But all NSAIDs can irritate your stomach and intestine, and long-term use can lead to ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • Other potential side effects include damage to your kidneys, fluid retention and heart failure. In addition, NSAIDs may worsen skin problems. Still, these medications may be a good option for people with minor joint pain and stiffness.

  • Corticosteroids If you have mild psoriatic arthritis, your doctor might recommend corticosteroids to control infrequent joint pain flares. Corticosteroids can be taken orally, or they can be injected directly into aching joints. Corticosteroid injections provide almost immediate relief and improve range of motion — sometimes for months. But because injected steroids can cause damage, their use is usually limited.

  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs Rather than just reducing pain and inflammation, this class of drugs helps limit the amount of joint damage that occurs in psoriatic arthritis. But because DMARDs act slowly, you may not notice the effects for weeks or even months. For that reason, your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever, such as aspirin, in addition to a DMARD. Examples of DMARDs include sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and methotrexate.

  • Immunosuppressant medications These medications act to suppress the immune system, which normally protects the body from harmful organisms, but which attacks healthy tissue in people with psoriatic arthritis. Commonly used immunosuppressants include azathioprine (Imuran), cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral) and leflunomide (Arava).

  • Immunosuppressants can have potentially dangerous side effects and usually are used in only the most severe cases of psoriatic arthritis. Because they suppress the immune system, all such drugs can lead to anemia and an increased risk of serious infection. And many of them can cause liver and kidney problems.

  • TNF-alpha inhibitors. Your doctor may recommend tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors if you have severe psoriatic arthritis. These drugs block a protein that causes inflammation in some types of arthritis. Drugs in this category include etanercept (Enbrel), adalimumab (Humira) and infliximab (Remicade). TNF-alpha inhibitors can help manage signs and symptoms of psoriasis, as well. However, these drugs carry a risk of side effects, including serious infections.
    • . . . Surgery
      Although surgery is rarely performed for psoriatic arthritis, your doctor may recommend some form of joint operation when other treatments fail to relieve your symptoms. Surgeons use various procedures in psoriatic arthritis treatment to ease pain and restore mobility. Because these operations pose some risks, be sure you thoroughly discuss your options with your doctor.
    Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment . . . What you can do:

    Some of the most encouraging news about psoriatic arthritis is that you can do a great deal on your own to help manage the condition:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight places less strain on your joints, leading to reduced pain and increased energy and mobility. The best way to increase nutrients while limiting calories is to eat more plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise is essential for everyone — and that includes people with arthritis. In fact, exercise alone can help relieve many of the symptoms of arthritic conditions, including pain and fatigue. You're the best judge of how much you can do, but an appropriate activity level should make you feel the same or better afterward, not worse. Introduce new activities gradually and heed warning signs. If you experience new pain later in the day or fatigue the following day, you've probably done too much.

  • Use cold and hot packs. Because cold has a numbing effect, it can dull the sensation of pain. Before using an ice pack, apply a thin layer of mineral oil over the painful joint. Place a damp towel over the mineral oil and then put the ice pack on the towel. You can apply cold several times a day for 20 or 30 minutes. Some people prefer to briefly massage the painful area with an ice cube. If you try this method, keep the ice moving to avoid frostbite.

  • You can also use heat to relax tense muscles and relieve pain. Try an electric heating pad on the low setting — be sure to place a towel between your skin and the heating pad. A heat lamp, an inexpensive gel-filled pack found in most pharmacies, or taking a warm bath or shower are also an effective psoriatic arthritis treatment.

  • Use proper body mechanics. Changing the way you carry out everyday tasks can make a tremendous difference in how you feel. For example, you can avoid straining your finger joints by using a specially-designed opener to twist the lids from jars, by lifting heavy pans or other objects with both hands and by pushing open doors with your whole body instead of just your fingers. Ask your doctor about other ways you can protect your joints.

  • Pace yourself. Battling pain and inflammation can leave you feeling exhausted. In addition, some arthritis medications can cause fatigue. The key isn't to stop being active entirely, but to rest before you become too tired. Divide exercise or work activities into short segments. And find time to relax several times throughout the day.

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    ...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!