Diseases > Psoriatic Arthritis | PsA > Medications for PsA
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Medications for Psoriatic Arthritis
Medications can help make living with PsA much more comfortable and help to improve function and mobility. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs and corticosteroids are groups of medications that can reduce inflammation, pain and stiffness. Other medications called analgesics can help reduce pain. DMARDs are medications that can help reduce inflammation and prevent damage to joints. Biologics are the most advanced and targeted medications for PsA available so far. Biologics are considered a major breakthrough in the treatment of PsA because they improve the inflammation in both the joints and the skin. For some people with PsA, a combination of medications is needed to control the disease.
For more information about specific medications used to treat PsA, refer to the Medications section of www.RheumInfo.com. From there, you can download “pictopamphlets” for individual medications.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs are medications that reduce the inflammation of joints caused by PsA. They also help to reduce symptoms such as pain. Luckily there are about 20 different anti-inflammatory medications available. So if one doesn’t work for you, try another.
Medications like prednisone can help control inflammation in some people. It can also help control symptoms of pain and stiffness. It is usually used in high doses for short periods of time. When used for long periods of time, prednisone can have side effects. You should to discuss the risks and benefits of using prednisone with your rheumatologist. Some patients also benefit from cortisone injections directly into a joint. This should be discussed with your rheumatologist.
Analgesic medications only control pain. They do nothing to control the disease or to prevent further joint damage. Analgesics can range from simple things like acetaminophen (Tylenol) to more potent narcotics like morphine.
The Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) were initially used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. They are also effective in people with PsA. Methotrexate is the most commonly used DMARD in people with PsA. Methotrexate offers “two for one” treatment of PsA because it works well to treat the arthritis and the psoriasis of PsA. Other types of DMARDs work well for treating the arthritis of PsA, but are not as helpful for the skin. Other DMARDs that are used include: Sulfasalazine, Leflunomide (Arava), Gold (Myochrisine), and Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil).
Until about a decade ago, there were few other options for people with PsA if anti-inflammatory medications and DMARDs weren’t enough to control their disease. That’s not the case today – people with PsA whose joint pain and stiffness aren’t relieved by anti-inflammatory drugs or DMARDs can turn to a group of medications called anti-TNF biologics.
Anti-TNF biologics are extremely effective and can make a big difference for people with PsA. Not only do they help the arthritis but they can also help the psoriasis. There are now 5 anti-TNF biologics available including Humira, Remicade, Enbrel, Cimzia, and Simponi. With 5 different anti-TNF biologics to choose from, if one doesn’t work, your rheumatologist may suggest another.
Natural Remedies / Complementary Therapies
There are no known natural remedies or complementary therapies that have been proven to help PsA in any significant way. However, it’s important to check with your rheumatologist to make sure that nothing interacts with your medication if you choose to use natural remedies or complementary therapies.
In the most severe cases of PsA the joints may be so badly damaged that they need to be replaced. Surgery usually involves replacing a damaged joint with an artificial joint, most commonly the knee or hip. Surgery can help people with severe, advanced PsA by reducing pain, improving their mobility and restoring their functioning. More rarely, the joints of the shoulder, elbow or ankle can be replaced by surgery.