Adjusting psoriatic arthritis medications: Advice from a Mayo Clinic expert

Finding the right medications for your psoriatic arthritis symptoms may take time and patience, but you can find relief by working closely with your rheumatologist.

The most important part of finding effective treatment for psoriatic arthritis is you — your treatment goals, your symptoms and your quality of life. Get expert input on the best approach.

Finding the right medications for your psoriatic arthritis symptoms can be frustrating at times, but hang in there. You may need to try multiple types and combinations of treatments, but you can find relief.

In this interview, April Chang-Miller, M.D., a rheumatologist at Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona with a special interest in psoriatic arthritis, discusses what to expect from the process of finding your best treatment plan, and how to get the best results.

What can I expect while trying to find the right psoriatic arthritis medications?

Know that it often takes time to find both the right psoriatic arthritis medications and the right dosages. Your rheumatologist will expect this, and will work closely with you to find your optimal treatment plan.

You will play the most important role in this process! The information you share with your doctor about how you're responding to — and feeling on — each medication will play a critical role in determining whether you need any medication adjustments.

Don't give up if you're not feeling better right away. It may take some time, but the majority of people with psoriatic arthritis experience significant symptom relief within one year of treatment.

How will the process of finding the right medication unfold?

Your doctor will recommend an initial treatment plan based on a number of factors unique to you, including the severity of your symptoms, any other health conditions you may have and any additional medications you may be taking.

When you begin a new psoriatic arthritis medication, you're likely to have scheduled checkups. These appointments will often include lab tests, along with detailed conversations about any changes in your symptoms since you started the medication.

As you learn more about how the drug is affecting you, your doctor may adjust your dosage. Psoriatic arthritis medications often are prescribed to be increased gradually, to minimize side effects as you find your maximum dosage.

If the medication isn't producing expected results, or if your side effects are noticeable, your doctor may recommend trying a different drug.

The goal, ultimately, is to find a medication plan that provides dramatic relief from your symptoms. Your doctor may refer to this as "minimal disease activity," or MDA.

Jan. 06, 2017