Cyclosporine and Psoriatic Arthritis
Although not approved to treat psoriatic arthritis, cyclosporine is sometimes prescribed "off-label" to treat this condition. In general, cyclosporine is used only in severe cases, when the condition has not adequately improved using other treatments. Because cyclosporine can cause potentially serious side effects, your blood levels and blood pressure will be closely monitored.
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Psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects some people with psoriasis, a skin condition characterized by thickened, red, scaly patches of skin. Psoriatic arthritis occurs when the immune system, for reasons that are not completely understood, attacks healthy cells and tissue in the body. As a result, the joints become inflamed, leading to symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis may include:
- Pain, tenderness, and swelling of the joints
- Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
- Inflammation in other areas of the body, such as the eyes, kidneys, or lungs.
Healthcare providers use a variety of approaches to treat psoriatic arthritis. For some people, lifestyle changes, such as exercise and stress reduction, may be enough to control symptoms. However, most people who have psoriatic arthritis will be treated with medications. The goal of psoriatic arthritis treatment is to reduce pain and inflammation and slow down or stop joint damage.
Some medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), only work to relieve pain and inflammation. Others, including cyclosporine (Gengraf®, Neoral®, Sandimmune®), may help slow down the progression of psoriatic arthritis, thereby slowing down or stopping joint damage. Medications that slow down the progression of the disease are called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). DMARDs include:
- Methotrexate (Rheumatrex®)
- Azathioprine (Imuran®)
- Leflunomide (Arava®)
- Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine®)
- Gold sodium thiomalate.
(Click Psoriatic Arthritis Medications for more information about medicines used in the treatment of psoriatic arthritis.)