An adult woman holding a hand to her mouth with a worried expression

Worries I Had While in Psoriatic Arthritis Remission

I was lucky enough to have about a year-and-a-half-long remission from psoriatic arthritis (PsA) - and it was just as you would think - absolutely fabulous. It fell right around my senior year of high school and first semester of college, letting me spend those times like any other teenager.

But it would be a lie to say PsA wasn’t still a concern during this blissful period.

Psoriatic arthritis remission isn't a cure

That stretch of time was glorious because I wasn't suffering from many of my usual PsA symptoms like enthesitis or fatigue. But being in remission isn’t the same thing as being cured; it means your disease isn’t active, but it does have the potential to come back. You can also still experience pain due to existing joint damage.

So while I could breathe a little easier, I always had some worries in the back of my mind. Was the pain I was feeling from joint damage, or was it my pain coming back?

But two questions that gave me anxiety were, "what if the drug keeping my disease in check stops working" and "what if I do something to make it flare up?" And I had valid reasons to be worried.

How is remission even achieved?

A lot of people achieve remission while using medication. While your first reaction might be that being in remission means you can stop taking your medicine, the opposite is ideally true. Most people have to continue taking their medicine to keep their remission.

My only remission came while I was on Enbrel (etanercept). While I was so happy it worked and continued to work; I always had lingering fears in the back of my mind.

My doctor and I agreed to have me continue to take my normal dosage at my normal time. But I worried about whether it would stop working at some point. It was just a fear - sometimes, medicines just stop working.

Injuries and other PsA flare triggers

PsA can flare for various reasons: injuries, illness, stress, and more. Everyone’s triggers are a little different. For me, one of my worst triggers is injuries. So when I was in remission, I was very wary around any of my flare triggers, worried it would bring my arthritis back in full force.

I remember slipping on black ice as I stepped off a curb and landed flat on my back. I was in so much pain from bruises, and I was so worried my arthritis would flare. I waited for a flare and was so relieved when nothing came of it.

I was cautious but tried not to live in fear. And I found some new confidence, as I wasn't as clumsy or stiff as usual. And when I did get injured, I would make sure to take care of it - ice, wrapping, and even NSAIDs when appropriate.

All good things must come to an end, apparently.

My anxiety did ease over time. The longer I went without issues, the more I could relax. Eventually, my remission did end. It was still heartbreaking, but life eventually kept going on. It was great while it lasted.

But I will say I’m glad that I was mentally prepared to know my PsA could come back. Knowing it was possible made it easier to move forward and take the next step toward getting my arthritis under control again.

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