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Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment Guidelines Published

Posted Oct 29 2008 1:11pm

The first international guidelines for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis has been developed and published by a group of rheumatologists, dermatologists, and patient advocates.

The guidelines were developed by the Group for Research and Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis (GRAPPA) and were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes a person’s body to attack itself. The disease results in joints destruction, which causes some bones or digits such as toes or fingers to shrink or even disappear. It also can produce abnormal, disabling and disfiguring growth of bone in the feet, hands, spine, and other joints. Other findings include that patients with psoriasis are more likely to suffer from several other ailments including heart attacks, diabetes and high blood pressure.

There are many treatments available to treat psoriatic arthritis. These include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and steroids that are injected into the joints or tendons.

GRAPPA found that uses of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as methotrexate, are often used for treating psoriatic arthritis. But these medications are often ineffective, although they can be very useful for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

The group’s first recommendation is that patients see a dermatologist or rheumatologist as soon as they suspect psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. At the present time there is large number of patients with psoriatic arthritis that never see a rheumatologist, leading many patients to go undiagnosed.

GRAPPA also recommended that anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) drugs be considered by physicians. The first anti-TNF compound, etanercept, was approved by FDA in 1998 to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and then was approved in 2002 to treat psoriatic arthritis. Similar drugs include infliximab and adalimumab.

It is estimated that there are between 500,000 to 1 million people in the United States that have psoriatic arthritis. Doctors say that nearly one out of every four patients with psoriasis also gets psoriatic arthritis, and that on the other hand, about 15 percent of people who get the disease don’t have psoriasis.

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