What Is Infliximab Used For?
Infliximab may be prescribed to help relieve symptoms of several inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, ankylosing spondylitis, and plaque psoriasis. Although the medication cannot cure these conditions, it can help to prevent future damage from occurring. Infliximab is used for off-label reasons as well, such as Behcet's disease and acute graft-versus-host disease.
Uses for Infliximab: An OverviewInfliximab (Remicade®) is a prescription medication licensed to treat certain inflammatory conditions that affect the joints, skin, or digestive system. Specific infliximab uses include the treatment of:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Crohn's disease
- Plaque psoriasis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ulcerative colitis.
Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disease that causes painful arthritis of the spine. In people with this condition, the immune system begins functioning abnormally and starts attacking the spine. This results in pain and stiffness, especially in the lower back. Other ankylosing spondylitis symptoms may include changes in vision and possible problems with the heart, lungs, or digestive system.
Infliximab is used to reduce the signs and symptoms of active cases of ankylosing spondylitis.
Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. There are several different types of IBD, with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis being the most common. They all cause chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. Although much research is under way, Crohn's disease causes are not well understood.
Depending on how serious your condition is, your healthcare provider may recommend one or more treatment options, such as:
- Medications (see Crohn's Disease Medications)
- Dietary changes (see Crohn's Disease Diet)
- Lifestyle changes (see Living With Crohn's Disease)
- Nutritional supplementation
- Surgery (see Crohn's Disease Surgery).
Although infliximab is not a Crohn's cure, the drug is approved to reduce the signs and symptoms of Crohn's disease and to maintain remission. Infliximab is also approved to reduce the number of fistulas in people with the condition. Fistulas are one of the complications of Crohn's disease. These are sores and ulcers that become deep and tunnel through the different layers of the intestines and into the tissues of nearby organs, such as:
- The rectum
- Other parts of the intestine
- The bladder
- The vagina
- The skin.
Psoriasis is a fairly common condition of the skin and joints. It causes problems because the immune system attacks the skin and joints. Symptoms of psoriasis include thick, scaly patches (plaques) on the skin, especially near the elbows and knees.
Infliximab can be used to plaque psoriasis in adults (over age 18) with chronic cases of the disease. The drug will improve the signs and symptoms, but it is not a psoriasis cure.