The first-ever international guidelines for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis, a disease that mainly affects people who have psoriasis, have been published by a group of rheumatologists, dermatologists, and patient advocates.
Group leader Dr. Christopher Ritchlin, professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says that a broad range of treatments is available to treat the disease, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and steroids injected into joints or tendons.
He adds that other anti-inflammatory medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, such as methotrexate, are often used.
The researcher, however, insists that his Group for Research and Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis (GRAPPA) has found that the medications are often not effective for psoriatic arthritis, even though they can be very useful for treating rheumatoid arthritis.
According to the group, patients should see a specialist, such as a dermatologist or rheumatologist, as soon as psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis is suspected.
Ritchlin highlights the fact that, currently, a large number of patients with psoriatic arthritis do not see a rheumatologist, and many go undiagnosed.
The group has also suggested that doctors consider newer medications that inhibit a molecule known as TNF (tumor necrosis factor).
"Most people respond rapidly and dramatically to these medications," said Ritchlin, who led a research team at Rochester that described the central role of TNF in the bone damage that occurs in psoriatic arthritis.
Recent estimates indicate that less than 20 percent of psoriatic arthritis patients are on anti-TNF medications.
The group presented its guidelines at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology on Sunday.