Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that makes your immune system turn on itself and cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints. Over the past 20 years, the go-to psoriatic arthritis treatments have been nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive medications. These treatments are often effective in relieving symptoms, but not always. For those with moderate to severe psoriatic arthritis who don’t find relief with traditional medications, newer biologics offer a proven alternative. Depending on clinical circumstances, biologics can either be added to an existing drug regimen or replace other drugs. Psoriatic biologic medications are either taken orally or administered through an injection or IV to block the specific cells and proteins in your body that are causing the problem. Unlike traditional medications that act on your entire system, biologics target the source of your symptoms precisely. Some biologics can even work beyond relieving symptoms to slowing the progression of joint damage psoriatic arthritis can cause. Are you a candidate for psoriatic arthritis biologics? Biologic treatments are only prescribed for moderate or severe psoriatic arthritis. If you have a milder form, biologic treatment isn’t considered appropriate. Doctors typically recommend more traditional medications first and consider “graduating” to biologics if your condition is moderate or severe and you are still having pain. Some insurers may also not cover biologic treatments unless you’ve tried traditional treatment first. To determine if you’re a candidate for biologics, and find the right biologic for you, your doctor will perform a thorough assessment of your health: Update your medical history Perform a physical exam Order blood tests Be sure to tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking. Some may have a negative interaction with some biologics, and some may not. If you have an active infection or your immune system is compromised, biologics aren’t recommended. How soon can psoriatic biologics relieve symptoms? It may take at least three months of a biologic treatment to feel less pain from your psoriatic arthritis, but studies show an improvement in mood in much less time, which can, in turn, lessen your sensitivity to pain. Depression and pain are linked. The faster you feel better mentally and emotionally, the faster you may feel better physically. What are the risks and side effects of biologics? Any treatment has pros and cons you should weigh carefully with your doctor. Taking a biologic can increase your risk of infection. To help reduce this risk, your doctor may recommend screening for tuberculosis and hepatitis and ensure you’re up to date on vaccinations before you start treatment. Before taking some biologics, screening for TB and other infectious diseases is mandatory. The most common side effects of psoriatic arthritis biologics include flu-like symptoms, respiratory infections, or injection site reactions. These side effects are usually mild. More serious side effects are rare, but they can include seizures, multiple sclerosis, blood disorders, and some types of skin cancer. What’s next in psoriatic arthritis treatment? Building on the breakthroughs of biologic treatment, promising research is ongoing, and advancements are expected to continue. There is hope in the medical community that newer biologics will be developed that work even better, cause fewer side effects, come in pill form, and even offer a cure. Since psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition, an important part of managing it long-term is keeping the lines of communication open with your doctor. Express how your current treatment is going and ask about the latest options.