Inflammation levels vary in a person's body as they try a treatment

PsA 101: What Is An Effective Treatment Plan?

What do we mean when we say a biologic, or any treatment plan for that matter, is “effective?” You would think it is an easy question to answer - your treatment plan is either effective, or it isn’t. Right? Wrong.

How do we define an effective treatment plan?

Doctors, scientists, pharmacists, and patients all seem to have different criteria for what they deem to be effective. Sometimes doctors, scientists, and patients might agree that a 20% improvement is effective.

Yet, for many of us, we might fall into the category of the belief that there is no such thing as a truly effective treatment option. So while the answer may be different for each person, the best question to ask is what does the effective treatment actually look like or better yet, feel like?

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What questions should we ask?

The most important question to ask when discussing treatment plans isn’t necessarily will it work, rather, the better question might be to ask, "How well might it work?" Well, technically, effective is defined as, “successful in producing a desired or intended result.” So all of them might technically work. But to what degree? 5%? 10%?

You might argue that it is a case of semantics. You might think something as simple as word choice can’t be that big of a deal. And yet, pretty much every medication choice we make is based on its perceived efficacy or lack thereof.

So then, how effective is it actually? It is a situation of both parts being true, rather than one being exclusionary of the other. While medicine can be labeled “effective,” I have found that there are better questions we should be asking.

Is it effective enough? Is it effective enough to keep trying? Is it effective enough to at least put on a simple pause on my disease progression? Is it enough to keep my disease from actually getting worse?

How well do my psoriatic arthritis treatments work?

Well, I’ll fully admit that I’ve chosen to stay on medications that have given me even a tiny 20-30% improvement, mostly because I was scared of the alternative. Not to mention that I also wasn’t particularly hopeful that I’d find something that would be better than 20-30%. Yes, I know how sad that sounds.

And given the amount of time I spend with our psoriatic arthritis community, I really believe that for too many of us, seeing a 20-30% improvement is likely the norm or even the high end of the average improvement, rather than the exception. But because many are like me and we will take anything we can get, even if it is only a 20-30% improvement. As opposed to the alternative, which is to literally go backward and get worse, instead of seeing any improvement at all.

What does this mean for loved ones?

This isn’t the end of the discussion. Join me for the second half of this topic where I take a closer look at how difficult it is for loved ones to understand that just because we are technically on an effective treatment plan, we actually still have to manage a great deal of pain and fatigue.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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