Psoriatic Arthritis: Need a Treatment Change?

Health Writer
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Without adequate treatment, psoriatic arthritis can create substantial hardships for those with the condition and their families. Psoriatic arthritis is unpredictable and progressive: it can worsen gradually, sometimes without you even noticing. If any of the items on the checklist below apply to you, it may be time to talk to your doctor about a new treatment plan.


Psoriasis covers more than one percent of your body

In 2016, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published targets for patients and care providers to ensure psoriatic disease is being treated effectively. One of the goals is to keep psoriasis from covering more than one percent of your body. Another way to look at it: Is 99 percent of your skin clear of psoriasis? If you have psoriasis over a significantly larger area than one percent, it may be time to increase your treatment.


No improvement after three months from start of last treatment

Three months seems to be a reasonable time to expect improvement in your symptoms, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. While medications can vary in the amount of time they require to become completely effective, if it has been three months from the beginning of your last treatment and you are not experiencing improvement, follow up with your doctor.


You experience new or increased joint pain

Psoriatic arthritis involves more than just skin issues — it can cause swelling and stiffness around the joints. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, delaying treatment for as little as six months can result in permanent joint damage. If you have recently developed new aches and pains, it is important to tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible.


You are experiencing reduced quality of life

Compared with the general population, those with psoriatic arthritis have a lower health-related quality of life. While quality of life can be subjective, if you find your psoriatic arthritis is preventing you from carrying out your daily activities, it may be time to increase your treatment.


You experience depression or anxiety

Depression and anxiety can be silent symptoms of psoriatic disease. Those living with psoriasis have a 31 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with anxiety. Those with both psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis suffer even higher rates of depression than those with psoriasis alone. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, it is extremely important that you let your healthcare provider know. Getting treatment for your mental health may actually improve your psoriatic arthritis symptoms.


You are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease

It is well established that heart disease is more common in those who have inflammatory conditions such as psoriatic arthritis. Inflammation affects the innermost layer of blood vessels, which can raise blood pressure and reduce the flow of blood to the heart. If you have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, an increase in your psoriatic arthritis treatment may be warranted.


You're having sleep issues

Adequate sleep, or the lack of it, impacts almost every aspect of our overall health and wellbeing. For some, psoriatic arthritis symptoms such as itchiness or joint pain are tolerable in the day time but can be bothersome (and worse) at night. If you are functioning well in the day, but find your condition keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep, it may be time to talk to your doctor about increasing your psoriatic treatment.


You're undergoing financial distress

The economic impact of psoriatic arthritis can be considerable. In the U.S., the direct annual health care costs for psoriatic arthritis are estimated to be as high as $1.9 billion. Because the costs related to psoriatic arthritis increase with worsening physical function and disease activity, it is important that you talk to your doctor if you are feeling financially burdened by your condition.


Remember: Treatment is available

New treatments are continuously being developed for psoriatic arthritis. Even if you are already being treated, changing your medication dose, adding a new treatment to your regimen, or switching treatments are all viable options for putting you on the best path forward.