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My Humira Experience

So there's a lot of anecdotal evidence about Humira out there on the Internet. And I suppose this is just going to be more of that. But I thought I'd document my experience as a first time Humira/biologic user so that other people with PsA who are facing going on a biologic for the first time can have the benefit of my experience.

But I should stress that it's just MY experience. Biologics are tricky. In fact, for 1 in 3 people, the first biologic they use won't work. This is just my own personal experience - for better or worse - with the drug.

Receiving a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis


First off a little about myself. I'm 51 years old and was first diagnosed with PsA and ankylosing spondylitis four years ago. I suspect I've had PsA much longer as a lot of little issues I had in my mid-30s and early 40s make more sense now.

But my symptoms weren't severe enough for me to think anything of them until about four years ago when a bronchial infection triggered a case of costochondritis (sternum pain) that's never gone away. That's when I knew something was amiss.

The decision to try Humira


After four years of treating my PsA with NSAIDs, my rheumatologist at the Cleveland Clinic recommended a three month trial of Humira. I had my first injection today. I know there's another post of mine on here called "Moment of Truth" where I was supposed to start my Humira 12 days ago but a few hours before the injection I got a work email telling me I'd need to be out of town for a week and a half.

Starting Humira and then immediately getting on a plane for Florida didn't seem like the greatest Idea so I waited until I got back.

Myths about Humira


Humira actually sends out an ambassador the first time you take the drug to answer any questions and help walk you through your first injection, which was pretty cool. The first myth I want to do away with is the sting of the injection myth. I read all sorts of horror stories online about how it was like a wasp sting and how people dreaded injection day.

I felt so little pain (I use the pen) that I wasn't certain I even did it correctly. The mildest of mild stings. If you're been dealing with RA or PsA pain the injection is nothing by comparison. So my input from Day 1 is ... don't fear the injection. It's easy peasy lemon squeezy.

How quickly would Humira work?


As for what impact it will have on me and how quickly ... we'll see. My ambassador told me about one woman he visited who was in such pain from RA she could barely get out of bed in the morning.

She said the first night after the injection she had the best night's sleep of her life and got up the very next morning in no pain. I don't know that it'll work on me THAT fast (I've read 2 weeks to 3 months) but it would be nice.

Preparing for treatment side effects


I've read online that some people get a fever or headache the first time they take it that passes in 2 to 3 days. So far I've had neither but it's only been a few hours since the injection.

I'll report back after a few days of having gone by or if something of significance happens. But as of right now ... so far, so good.

  1. Really looking forward to following your journey, Sean. This was really informative - thank you!

    1. Okay, so I didn't know that I'd have anything to report just one day in but I guess I'm one of the lucky ones - the Humira worked right away. Usually the my first two hours of the morning are my worst. I wake up stiff, sore and with my pain level at a 7 or 8. Today, I woke up with it at around a 2. Not COMPLETELY gone, and still some swelling in my right hand, but a HUGE difference in pain level. Most noticeably in my neck and chest. My chest doesn't hurt at all and my the pain level in my neck is down to about a 1. I CAN TURN MY HEAD!

      I'd heard 2 weeks to 3 months for Humira to work but in my case, just one day in, I'm feeling a big difference. Also, no fever or headache at all. So thus far nothing but good things to report.

      Well, okay one small bad thing. I cut my finger at the store this morning. Just a very small cut and I put an alcohol swab on it right away but it'll be interesting to see if it takes longer to heal than usual. I'll report back on that in a few days.

      1. Hi

        Sean hasn't been active on the site for quite some time, so you may not hear back so I wanted to respond and just say that it's great to hear you've had such positive results from your humira treatment! I know it's been a couple weeks since your comment so how have things been going?

        - Jake (Psoriatic-Arthritis.com Team Member)

      2. I should be starting in a week or so, thank you for your updates.

    2. Okay, well I'm one week in and there is good news and bad.

      The good news is that my pain level is pretty much at a 0. My right wrist and neck, which is where I have had the most pain, feel great. I have had SOME issues with my body adjusting to the Humira, however. At least that's what I think it is.

      I've had some mild stomach pain and nausea. But the weirdest, and most distressing symptom, has been a problem falling asleep at night. Just when I'm about to nod off I get a sensation of fullness in my chest and vertigo. Like the bottoms just drops out and jars me awake. I've had these issues before (I think they're relating to my spine issues) but they seem to have ramped up a lot in just the past week. Maybe that's coincidence or maybe that's the Humira. I don't really know.

      The stomach issues, from what I understand, will subside in time. Hopefully the other issue will as well. Because from a pain standpoint I feel tremendous.

      1. Sean, wow, so pleased that your pain is almost gone! Sorry to hear about your GI and sleep issues though. I hope they all resolve after your body adjusts a bit. Don't be afraid to reach out to your Doc if you think they might be able to help or give some other insights. How did your finger end up healing?
        Warm wishes!
        -Victoria, Community Moderator

    3. My finger ended up healing just fine, which I was glad to see. One of my chief concerns with being on Humira is injuries not healing as quickly. But maybe that applies primarily to infections and not cuts and bruises. I don't really know.

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