Injectable medications for psoriatic arthritis: Things to know

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis which can affect the joints of one person. If the person is not receiving treatment, the disease can eventually damage the joints.

Psoriatic arthritis can be of mild to severe severity. A person with oral medications and lifestyle changes can often manage mild symptoms. The person may be a good candidate for injectable medications unless psoriatic arthritis is moderate or severe.

Although injectable drugs can help alleviate symptoms and avoid joint damage, this type of treatment may not be everyone’s best choice.

Keep on reading to learn more about psoriatic arthritis injectable medications.

Who is eligible for injections?

A person with moderate to severe psoriatic arthritis may benefit from injectable treatments.
A person with moderate to severe psoriatic arthritis may benefit from injectable treatments.

A doctor might recommend injectable treatments if a person:

  • has moderate to severe psoriatic arthritis
  • has moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, as well as psoriatic arthritis
  • has not responded well to other psoriatic arthritis treatments
  • does not have an active infection or compromised immune system

To learn whether injectable medications may be a good option, a person should talk to their doctor.

Types of injectable medications

Psoriatic arthritis can be treated by multiple injectable medications. Most of these belong to a group of medications known as biologics.

Biologics are being produced from living cells in a laboratory, as the National Psoriasis Foundation states. They target different Immune System cells or proteins, such as:

  • T cells
  • tumor necrosis factor-alpha, or TNF-alpha
  • interleukin-17, or IL-17
  • interleukin-12, or IL-12
  • interleukin-23, or IL-23

For the treatment of moderate to severe psoriatic arthritis the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following nine biologics:

  • abatacept (Orencia)
  • adalimumab (Humira)
  • certolizumab pegol (Cimzia)
  • etanercept (Enbrel)
  • golimumab (Simponi, Simponi Aria)
  • infliximab (Remicade)
  • ixekizumab (Taltz)
  • secukinumab (Cosentyx)
  • ustekinumab (Stelara)

A doctor may also recommend corticosteroids which can be administered to treat the disease. Biologics are not corticosteroids.

Anyone interested in this procedure should speak with their doctor, who can provide specific information on the dangers and potential benefits of the various injectable medicines.

Methods of injection

Remicade or Simponi Aria is administered via intravenous (IV) infusion by a health care provider. It means inserting a small needle into the vein of the individual. The needle is attached to a tube which allows the medicine to enter the body.

By subcutaneous injection, Cimzia, Enbrel, Simponi, Taltz, Cosentyx, Humira and Stelara enter the body; This involves injecting the drug under the skin using a small needle. The person can administer the injection himself.

Orencia is available as a subcutaneous injection or as an IV infusion.

To administer injectable corticosteroids, a healthcare provider injects the medication directly into an affected joint. This is known as an intra-articular injection.

Frequency of injection

It takes more than one injection to treat psoriatic arthritis with injectable medications.

The appropriate injection frequency depends upon the type of medication. A health care provider can prescribe multiple injections per week or less than one injection per month.

In many cases, when a person starts taking a medication, a person will have more regular injections, and will gradually need these injections less often.

Injectable medications do not treat the root cause of psoriatic arthritis. Even if the condition’s symptoms improve a person will still need to continue this care.

A doctor can provide specific information about how often to receive injections, depending on the drug.

Risks of injectable medications

There are complications of receiving psoriatic arthritis injections. Depending on the drug the actual risks can vary.

Some common side effects of injectable biologics include:

  • fatigue
  • upset stomach
  • headaches
  • abdominal pain
  • increased risk of infections, such as upper respiratory infections or hepatitis

Pain, bruise, swelling, redness, or itching can grow around the injection site following an injection. This is known as reaction from an injection site.

More severe side effects develop, in rare cases.

Anyone considering using injectable drugs must discuss the risks with their doctor.

Managing the risks

The doctor usually tests for certain diseases before administration of an injectable drug. This may require blood samples to be sent for testing.

The tests will check for:

  • hepatitis
  • tuberculosis
  • HIV
  • other bacterial or fungal infections

If a person is taking injectable psoriatic arthritis drugs, they must attend regular check-ups. These allow the doctor to screen for infections and other potential therapeutic adverse effects.

Other treatments

Many forms of care are often recommended by doctors before they prescribe injectable drugs. In some cases, in combination with some of those therapies, they prescribe injectable drugs.

The Arthritis Foundation describes the range of other treatments for psoriatic arthritis which includes:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — NSAIDs — such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium
  • traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs — DMARDs — such as methotrexate
  • short courses of oral corticosteroids
  • physical or occupational therapy
  • low-impact exercises

In some cases, a person may also need to support an affected joint with a splint or brace.

In rare cases, a doctor may recommend joint surgery.

Summary

Doctors also prescribe injectable drugs as a second-line treatment for psoriatic arthritis — where other treatments have not been effective.

Receiving these injections can increase the risk of an infection in a person. That type of treatment should not be used by anyone who has an active infection or a compromised immune system.

Anyone with psoriatic arthritis who wonders if injectable drugs are suitable should speak with a doctor about the risks and potential benefits.

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