Psoriatic Arthritis: What Is “Treat to Target?”
Your body. Your unique PsA triggers and symptoms. Your individualized plan. Take only the medications that work well for you.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that causes skin plaques, joint pain, and even bowel and eye issues. It affects different people differently, which is why rheumatologists and dermatologists increasingly favor customized PsA treatment plans that reduce disease flares and minimize symptoms. Learn more about the “treat-to-target” approach and why it may be right for you.
Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain and damages the joints. It affects about 30% of people with psoriasis, an autoimmune condition that leads to dry, itchy, often raised red patches on the skin called plaques. Treat to Target is a treatment method that aims to keep you in remission from disease flares by minimizing disease activity.
To do this, you and your rheumatologist or dermatologist or both will work together to develop a treatment goal or target that reduces your psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Using the right medication, you can then work toward your goal at an accelerated pace. The treat to target strategy has become the standard of care for several chronic illnesses, including diabetes, hypertension and rheumatoid arthritis.
This approach is growing in the field of psoriatic arthritis, too, but it can be more complicated to execute. Why? Because psoriatic arthritis is different for every person, potentially affecting multiple parts of the body, including the skin and nails, the joints, tendons and ligaments, and in some people, the bowel or the eyes.
This makes it more challenging to achieve remission and all your psoriatic arthritis symptoms, however minimal or at least limited disease activity, is possible due to the array of new medication options now available, including disease modifying pills and inflammation taming injections and infusions. You and your doctor can decide together which symptoms are most problematic for you and then focus on minimizing or eliminating them.
Once you begin your treatment plan, you'll see your doctor about once a month and he or she will use one of several disease activity scoring systems to measure your progress. The newest tools measure not only physical symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and skin problems, but also the emotional aspects of the disease, including anxiety, depression, social participation, embarrassment. If little or no improvement is seen in three to six months or in some cases even sooner, the treatment is intensified. That may mean increasing your medication dosage, trying a different medication in the same category, moving on to an entirely new category or drug class.
The treat to target approach for psoriatic arthritis will always involve some trial and error. Still, research shows that using the treat to target strategy to focus on minimizing disease activity will significantly improve skin and joint symptoms. Patient reported outcomes, including pain levels and their feelings about having psoriatic arthritis get much better, too.