Those with psoriatic arthritis may want to consider seeing their doctors more often. A new study suggests that more quality time with a physician could in the long run lead to better management of a disease that affects an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the population.
Previously (Coates et al., 2013), very little research was conducted to determine if tight control of inflammation could reduce joint damage in those with psoriatic arthritis. This, among other reasons, is why the researchers wanted to know if achieving this through intensive management early on could improve treatment outcomes for those living with PA.
The randomly controlled trial involved more than 200 patients who were newly diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis for less than 24 months and that had one or more tender or swollen joints. Half were assigned standard care and the rest were assigned a tightly controlled treatment plan in which investigators escalated treatment if the person’s condition wasn’t improving as expected.
Those undergoing the tightly controlled treatment regimen saw their doctor every four weeks while patients in the control group saw their doctor every 12 weeks. By the 48th week, patients in the tightly controlled treatment group made better progress in reducing the signs and symptoms of the disease compared to those in the standard control group.
Some of these improvements could be explained in part by changes in the medications. For instance, more patients in the tightly controlled treatment group received biologics to treat their arthritis. By the end of the study, as many as 37 percent of patients in the tightly controlled treatment group were receiving a biologic while only 8 percent of the standard care group were receiving a biologic. Additionally, those in the tightly controlled treatment group also received almost twice the number of steroid injections at weeks 12 and 24.
Whatever the reasons for improvement, the takeaway is that it may be best to see your doctor frequently to find the treatment that helps bring psoriatic arthritis under control.
Dr. Tracy Davenport is a health writer, advocate and entrepreneur who has been helping individuals live their best life. She is co-author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux. Follow Tracy’s love of smoothies on Twitter.