Can antibiotics help psoriatic arthritis?
Q) I have psoriatic arthropathy and some osteoarthritis. Mostly my back and legs are affected and recently I've been in severe pain. No drugs have brought much relief. Then I had a particularly bad attack of tonsillitis/quinsy and have had two courses of penicillin. By the second week the pain in my back and legs was reducing, and I was moving around much more freely. Now the pain has all but gone, and apart from what I call the usual twinges and some slight pain from time to time I'm back to where I was 12 months ago. Is there any connection or is this part of the pattern of flare-ups that occur?
Cherry Protheroe, Bedford, Bedfordshire (Spring 2006)
A) It's always fascinating to hear of cases like this. I recently had a patient with psoriatic arthritis who was ‘cured’ after being stung by a scorpion in Thailand! In fact, an old medical almanac of folk cures for arthritis recommends: ‘arrange to be stung by bees’. So, stings, bites and infections, or the treatment of infections, have been associated with cures. In fact, one of the theories as to why psoriatic arthritis starts suggests that bacteria found in the psoriatic skin lesions trigger the joint pains. If this is so, then a course of antibiotics, which would (temporarily) kill all the bacteria, might also help the arthritis but not permanently.