Successfully treating psoriatic arthritis

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When you are treated for a condition there are always going to be obstacles that might stop you getting to a successful outcome. Often treatments don't work as well as expected, so to get the best out of your treatments there are a number of steps you can take.

Following advice and using treatments as instructed is considered vital to help damp down joint inflammation, improve your symptoms and make sure you gain long-term comfort and mobility, this is often described as compliance. Although, you should feel that you are part of the decision making process and a term, which is more appropriate is concordance in which you as the patient make decisions together with your clinician about treatments. This active participation will give you control and take ownership of your symptoms, therefore helping you to understand what works best in your own circumstances.

Benefits
Different types of treatment take different times to show a good effect. In general, regular treatment with:

  • A pain-killing tablet such as ibuprofen or paracetemol should help to improve pain and stiffness within a few days
  • A disease-modifying drug like ciclosporin or methotrexate will not have an immediate effect and may take from 6 weeks to 6 months to work.

If you do not think your treatment is helping, don’t just stop using or taking it. Go back to your doctor for advice. You may need to use the treatment more often, take a higher dose, change to a stronger product or see a specialist.

Side-effects
Some of the drugs used to treat psoriatic arthritis are powerful and can cause side-effects. If you think you have a side-effect as a result of your treatment, you must tell your doctor straight away. In some cases, a side effect may mean your doctor will want to stop treatment or switch to another tablet.

  • Always read and keep the information leaflet that comes with your medication
  • Do not stop taking your treatment unless your doctor tells you to, or unless the leaflet that came with your medication suggests you should
  • If in doubt about any part of your treatment, ask your pharmacist, practice nurse or doctor for advice
  • Tell your doctor if you plan to become pregnant.
  • When you are prescribed a new medication check if it may interact with ones you are already taking. This applies to herbal remedies too.  

Monitoring
Some treatments for psoriatic arthritis mean you need regular blood or urine tests to ensure the drug is not harming your bone marrow, liver or kidneys. It is important to attend for these checks.

Contraception
Some treatments mean that a woman should not get pregnant because of the high risk of the baby having congenital abnormalities. If so, it is important that you use an effective method of contraception and continue to use it regularly. Your doctor can advise which method of contraception is likely to suit you best. If you forget to use contraception, or if your method fails, tell your doctor straight away. 

Ask your doctor for information on when it is safe to become pregnant after treatment.