Exploring Different Treatment Options for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Last updated: October 2023
Making the decision to switch medications for ankylosing spondylitis can be a daunting and overwhelming process. It's important to understand the reasons behind this switch and the potential benefits it can bring. In this article, we will explore the factors to consider when switching medications, the different treatment options available, and provide valuable insights to help you make an informed decision. Whether you are contemplating a switch or are simply curious about the topic, this article aims to provide you with the expert guidance and support you need throughout this journey of managing your Ankylosing Spondylitis.
When to consider a change in treatment
Whether you've been undergoing a particular treatment for just a few months or even years, there comes a time when you realize that it's no longer effective.
In the beginning, you experienced noticeable improvements — reduced pain, easier mobility, and increased energy. It seemed like the perfect solution. However, after some time, things take a turn for the worse.
During your next appointment with your rheumatologist, you express concerns about not feeling as well as before and inquire about alternative options.
The first essential step is discussing your concerns with your doctor and being proactive in your treatment plan. Ideally, you should also maintain a diary documenting your pain levels and symptoms. This information serves as evidence that your current treatment is not achieving the desired results.
Equally important is knowing what has worked for you in the past. For example, if NSAIDs have never been effective or have caused side effects, it's crucial to inform your rheumatologist and explore other options.
Efficacy of biologics varies among individuals
A common question among people in my support groups is about differences between various biologics like Humira, Taltz, Enbrel, Cosentyx, Remicade, Rinvoq, etc.
The simple answer is that each biologic works differently based on individual factors. Some block TNF-alpha while others affect the IL-17 gene or act as JAK inhibitors. These components are responsible for causing inflammation and joint degradation by prompting an overactive immune response.
Unfortunately, determining the most suitable treatment for you remains trial-and-error. Keep a diary to track your pain levels, stiffness, and fog every time you start new treatment options.
Remember that what works well for someone else may not necessarily be effective for you – and vice versa. Success with one specific TNF blocker doesn't guarantee similar results for another person.
Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) are another treatment option for patients with ankylosing spondylitis and axial spondyloarthritis. These treatments impact the immune system similarly to biologics by suppressing overactive immune responses.
Methotrexate and Sulfasalazine are two examples of DMARDs. Many patients experience positive results with this class of drugs, but they can also cause side effects such as upset stomach, hair loss, and infertility. Essentially, they function as low-dose chemotherapy, which may be intimidating. However, if the goal is to soothe an overactive immune system, they can be quite effective.
Like all treatments, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons. If side effects outweigh benefits, don't endure them merely to avoid switching medications. Remember that you have control over your treatment journey.
Treat yourself to a better life
There is a wide range of treatment options for AS/AxSpA, each with the potential to improve your quality of life. While it often involves trial and error to find the most effective treatment, what matters most is that you take control of your health and choices. As patients, we are resilient and powerful. Doctors may have expertise in our conditions, but we live with them every day.
Embark on a quest to discover your ideal treatment and embrace a better life.
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