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The Benefits and Challenges of Biologic Therapies for PsA

Get the most benefit from your psoriatic arthritis treatment by addressing these challenges.

The Benefits and Challenges of Biologic Therapies for PsA

Whether you’re dealing with the occasional flare-up or experiencing pain all the time, if you’ve been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), it’s important to seek treatment. The condition can get worse with time. 

Different psoriatic arthritis treatment plans work for different people. One avenue of treatment for PsA is using medications called biologic therapies. Biologic therapies act on specific parts of the immune system that are associated with inflammation in people who have psoriatic disease. 

Biologic therapies can help reduce the severity of symptoms, the damage to your joints and even the risk of other conditions associated with psoriatic disease. 

However, there are some challenges that come with treating PsA with a biologic therapy. These psoriatic arthritis medications can cause side effects. They can also be expensive. 

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and challenges of treating PsA with biologic therapy. 

Reducing symptoms 
Biologics work on psoriatic arthritis by controlling inflammation. This can reduce symptoms like swelling, pain and tenderness in the joints, as well as stiffness, back pain and fatigue. Controlling inflammation can also slow the progression of the disease and reduce the risk of permanent joint damage. 

Prevent other health conditions 
Research has shown that people living with PsA are also at an increased risk for several other conditions. These include cardiovascular disease, depression and sleep disorders (including insomnia). Keeping the disease under control with psoriatic arthritis treatment may help reduce your risk of these conditions and improve symptoms. 

Improve overall health 
Medication isn’t the only part of an effective psoriatic arthritis treatment plan. It is also important to adopt healthy habits and eliminate unhealthy habits. Healthy habits include exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight. Unhealthy habits to eliminate include smoking and consuming too much alcohol. In addition to helping ease symptoms, these steps will also improve your overall health and wellness. 

Side effects 
As is the case with many medications, biologic therapies can cause side effects. Because these drugs act on the immune system, they can increase a person’s risk of infection. The risk of other side effects will depend on the specific medication being used, and these are something that you should discuss with your healthcare provider (HCP) prior to starting a medication. 

Cost 
While the specific costs will depend on a number of factors—such as your health insurance plan and the specific medication prescribed—biologic treatments for psoriatic arthritis have a well-earned reputation for being expensive. If cost is a concern, discuss it with your  HCP. There may be ways to lower the cost of a prescription, such as a manufacturer copay card or patient assistance program. 

It is important to keep in mind that psoriatic arthritis is a different experience for everyone. If you have the condition, the most important thing you can do is see an HCP to find a treatment plan that works for you. 

Medically reviewed in December 2020. Updated in February 2021. 

Sources: 

American College of Rheumatology. "Psoriatic Arthritis."
National Psoriasis Foundation. "About Psoriatic Arthritis."
MedicalNewsToday. "Psoriatic arthritis: What to expect."
National Psoriasis Foundation. "Biologics."
UpToDate. "Patient education: Psoriatic arthritis (Beyond the Basics)."
Salvatore D’Angelo, Giuseppina Tramontano, et al. "Review of the treatment of psoriatic arthritis with biological agents: choice of drug for initial therapy and switch therapy for non-responders." Open Access Rheumatology: Research and Reviews, 2017. Vol. 9.
Chun-Ying Wu, Yun-Ting Chang, et al. "Depression and Insomnia in Patients With Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Taking Tumor Necrosis Factor Antagonists." Medicine, 2016. Vol. 95, No. 22.
MedicalNewsToday. "Biologics for psoriatic arthritis: Everything you need to know."
American Heart Association. "Biologic therapy for psoriasis may reduce heart disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2020.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. "Healthy Diet and Other Lifestyle Chance That Can Improve Psoriasis." 

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