Psoriatic arthritis can be really tough to treat. Sometimes NSAIDs and oral immunosuppressants can do the trick and keep your symptoms under control. But if these treatment methods are not giving you enough relief, then your doctor may recommend that you undergo infusion therapy instead. Here's what you need to know about infusions for psoriatic arthritis.
What is an infusion?
The term is a bit confusing, but all it really means is that a drug will be infused into your bloodstream via an IV. This treatment will take place in your doctor's office or a clinical treatment center. If you've ever had an IV in your arm before, the process will be more or less the same as that.
What medications will be infused?
There are two different medications that are often infused for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis. The first is called infliximab. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that works by negating a substance called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). Levels of this substance are elevated in many patients with psoriatic arthritis, so infusing a medication to lower levels of TNF-alpha can relieve the joint pain and stiffness you're experiencing.
The second medication that may be infused for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis is called golimumab. It is basically a cocktail of antibodies that bind to TNF-alpha and render it inactive.
Your doctor will decide whether infliximab or golimumab is the better choice for you based on your age and the severity of your symptoms.
How long will the treatment take?
The infusion itself can take up to a couple hours. However, your doctor will need to look you over and take your vital signs before your infusion. You'll also need to spend a little time in the doctor's office to be observed after treatment, just to make sure you don't have any negative reactions, so be sure to plan your schedule accordingly
How often do you need an infusion?
Your doctor will create a treatment schedule based on your needs. Most patients initially need treatments every few weeks, but as their condition improves, they can scale back to treatments every few months as more of a maintenance protocol.
Infusions are often the most effective way to manage psoriatic arthritis when oral treatments have failed. If you have any lingering questions, your doctor should be able to answer them prior to your first infusion treatment. Contact a medical facility like the Idaho Arthritis Center to learn more.