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Importance of early diagnosis

Early diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis and appropriate treatments, may minimise the progress of PsA symptoms.1

Over time, psoriatic arthritis may cause permanent joint damage, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.1

If you are seeing a general practitioner (GP) or dermatologist, they may refer you to a rheumatologist, a bone, joint and muscle specialist. A timely and accurate diagnosis is important.1

The path to diagnosis

What do the different doctors do?

Rheumatologists are the experts in diagnosing and managing psoriatic arthritis1,2

Although psoriatic arthritis can be a serious disease, there are various treatments available under the care of a rheumatologist. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, a rheumatologist will consider several factors when selecting the right treatment for you, including the severity of your condition.3,4*^

Psoriatic Arthritis treatment options include:3,4^

Learn more

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    By reducing the inflammation caused by psoriatic arthritis, joints become less swollen, painful and stiff. Such treatments can be bought from your local pharmacy if recommended by your Dr, or stronger versions may be prescribed by your rheumatologist.
  • Corticosteroids
    Corticosteroids, often referred to as steroids, also reduce inflammation and swelling. They can be taken orally or administered as local injections into the joints when a few joints are affected. Steroids are not recommended for the long-term treatment of psoriatic arthritis.
  • Conventional Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
    These treatments help relieve joint pain and stiffness, and may slow the joint damage of psoriatic arthritis. DMARDs can be prescribed by themselves or sometimes in combination with other treatments.
  • Biologic treatments (biologic DMARDs)
    These are more recently available DMARDs, which work with your immune system by targeting the specific cause of inflammation. These treatments may relieve skin and joint symptoms but also help prevent further joint and bone damage. Your rheumatologist may recommend using a biologic in combination with other DMARDs.

*NOTE: All medications have associated risks. If you are starting a treatment for psoriatic arthritis, you should talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of that particular medication.

^There are also other therapies available for treatment of the skin.

Dermatologists specialise in diseases of the skin, hair and nails

Most patients are affected by psoriasis for years before they develop symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.5 As dermatologists specialise in diseases affecting the skin, hair and nails, they are in a position to assist with the diagnosis of PsA. Early diagnosis and appropriate management can help to prevent permanent joint damage.1,6,7

GPs

The GP is usually the central point of contact for multidisciplinary care. Your GP can refer you to a rheumatologist, a dermatologist or any other medical specialist when needed. Your GP and specialists will share information about your medical condition to coordinate your care.

References

  1. Haroon M, et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2015;74:1045–1050.
  2. Helliwell P, et al. Arthritis Care Res. 2014;66:1759 -1766.
  3. Fitzgerald O. 2013. Psoriatic arthritis. In: Firestein GS, et al. Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: Elsevier, 1232 -1268.
  4. American College of Rheumatology. Fast Facts: Psoriatic Arthritis. Available at: www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases_And_Conditions/Psoriatic_Arthritis/
    [Last accessed: August 2016].
  5. Garg A, Gladman D. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010;63(5):733 -748.
  6. Goulabchand R, et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014;73:414 -419.
  7. Gladman DD, et al. Arthritis Res Ther. 2010;12:R113.