Psoriatic Arthritis: Symptoms and Treatments

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic condition that combines the swollen, sore joints of arthritis with itchy, scaly red patches of psoriasis. PsA is an autoimmune condition which is when a body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue by mistake.


The symptoms for PsA include:

  • Swollen fingers and toes
  • Foot pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling and pain around tendons
  • Stiffness and tiredness in the morning
  • Less range of motion
  • Nail changes
  • Eye redness and pain
  • Scaly skin, especially on your knees, elbows, and scalp


Psoriatic arthritis is not curable. Treatment of this condition instead entails control and management. Treatment ensures patients’ comfort and prevents the degeneration of the joints. The patient can live a normal life with therapy.

The goal with treatment is to reduce the inflammation so that there is less pain and lowers the risk of long term damage to joints and tissue. The most common treatments are medications such as Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen, but DMARDs, immunosuppressants, UV light, biologics, enzyme inhibitors, steroids & surgery are potential options.

The newest treatment options are from the drug class known as biologics. There are currently five different types of biologics that work in different ways to reduce inflammation. Some of the most popular brands of biologics include Otezla, Avsola, Humira, Tremfya, Cosentyx, Stelara, Taltz, Enbrel, and Xeljanz.


It is an intervention whose active ingredient is apremilast. The drug is FDA approved and used in other related inflammatory diseases. It acts as a selective inhibitor of the enzyme that prevents the production of TNF-alpha. TNF-alpha is responsible for the greasing of the joints without which psoriatic arthritis occurs. The drug is orally administered.

The side effects of Otezla include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Decreased appetite
  • Insomnia


Avsola was approved for the treatment by the FDA for a wide range of ailments, psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis included. Its active ingredient is infliximab-axxq, and this is an injectable drug.

Listed are common side effects observed as exhibited by different patients:

  • Infections, especially of upper respiratory and sinusitis bronchitis
  • Infusion-related reactions
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pains
  • Coughing
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Urinary tract Infection
  • High blood pressure


Humira has an active ingredient called adalimumab. The drugs act as a tumor necrosis factor inhibitor. This reduces the effects of substances in the body that can cause inflammation in psoriatic arthritis. Humira is administered as an injection.

The common contraindications of Humira include the following:

  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Headache
  • Skin Rashes
  • Injection site reaction
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Flu-like symptoms


It is used to treat plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The FDA approved this drug in 2017, and It works well in moderate and severe cases. Tremfya is a systemic drug and can also be used when the patient is receiving systemic therapy. It is an injectable drug.

The following are side effects exhibited by the drug on the patient:

  • Headache
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Joint pains
  • Stomach flu or gastroenteritis
  • Fungal infection
  • Herpes simplex infections


Cosentyx’s active ingredient is secukinumab. It reduces the effects of chemical substances in the body that cause inflammation. It treats moderate to severe psoriatic arthritis in adults.

The following are some of the side effects observed in the administration of Cosentyx:

  • Painful skin sores
  • Redness, warmth, or swelling under the skin
  • Shortness of breath and cough with a red or pink mucus
  • Increased frequency of urination pain or burning sensation while urinating.
  • Fever, chills, sweating
  • Muscle pains
  • Diarrhea, stomach pain


Its active ingredient is ustekinumab. It is an immunosuppressant that reduces the effects of any chemical substance that causes inflammation in the body. This makes it ideal for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease.

Caution should be taken as a Stelara should not be used by patients allergic to ustekinumab or anyone who has been immunized with BCG (Bacillus Calmette and Guerin) vaccine the last 12 months. Tuberculosis is also a risk factor to be considered before Stelara administration or use.

Final Thoughts

This list of treatments is not exhaustive. It should be noteworthy that different individuals respond to various interventions differently. Doctors’ advice is vital in identifying the best intervention.

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