What Is Psoriatic Arthritis?

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a form of inflammatory arthritis that affects millions in the United
States. PsA is a chronic autoimmune disorder with no cure, but treatment is important in order
to reduce long-term damage to joints.

What Causes Psoriatic Arthritis?

The root cause of PsA is ultimately unknown, but research has shown that genetics play at least
some role; about 40 percent of people diagnosed have family members that also suffer from
the disease. The skin condition known as psoriasis is a precursor to diagnosing PsA in 85 percent of cases, but only about 30 percent of those who suffer from psoriasis will develop PsA.

Research suggests that physical trauma and other diseases that cause a strain on the immune
system can be triggers for PsA outbreaks but are not root causes.

What are the Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis?

PsA shares many of the same symptoms as rheumatoid arthritis, which complicates the
diagnosis process. The most common PsA symptoms may include painfully swollen joints and tendons specifically in the ankles, knees, wrists and lower back joints. The chest, lungs and heart can also be affected. In addition to swelling and pain, PsA sufferers also noticed a reduced range of motion in joints and tendons.

While 30 percent of psoriasis cases develop PsA, The National Psoriasis Foundation states that there are very few connections between the severity of psoriasis symptoms and PsA symptoms in patients.

Comparing Psoriatic Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis share symptoms of painful joints, often in the same
areas. Rheumatoid arthritis often affects both sides of the body simultaneously, but in
PsA it is possible for only one side of the body to be affected. PsA can be accompanied by scaly
patches of skin and pitting in fingernails and toenails, which is usually the easiest indicator to
discern between the two.

Treating Psoriatic Arthritis

Treatment options for PsA range from reducing pain and inflammation to addressing the
function of the immune system in the body. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) will reduce inflammation and help with the pain factors that come with PsA.

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) work to slow the progression of PsA and reduce permanent damage in joints. Examples of DMARDs include methotrexate (Trexall), leflunomide (Arava), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), and apremilast (Oztezla). Currently Clinvest is conducting testing new DMARDs for PsA, which may become available to the market in the future.

In addition to DMARDs there are also biologic molecules used to treat PsA (bDMARDs). Examples of these are TNF-alpha inhibitors, such as etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira), golimumab (Simponi) and certolizumab (Cimzia), as well as Interleukin inhibitors such as tocilzumab (Actemra), ustekinumab (Stelara), Secukinumab (cosentyx), Ixekizumab (Taltz) and abatacept (Orencia), a T-Cell inhibitor. In contrast to conventional DMARD treatments, which act on the immune system as a whole, bDMARDs are engineered to target specific molecules in immune system.