Drug-free Anyone?

Has anyone been able to manage their arthritis successfully without meds? After 3 heavenly years of remission, my arthritis is back =(. I'm trying to avoid going back on meds, which seemed less than effective.

From the discussions I've read it seems that people have been unable to avoid meds, but diet has helped.

This is my experience with meds: I was diagnosed in 2006 and after a stint on Sulfasalazine (which worked ok for a year), I moved over to methotrexate upon the insistence of my first Rheumy. It made me feel awful (tired and a flu-like body ache 100% of the time), but the arthritis was better (not great but better). She refused to prescribe anything else, so we parted ways. My next Rheumy was open to taking me off of methotrexate, but wanted to overlap it with Paquinel and Sulfasalazine. My symptoms seemed to get worse - my feet were very stiff in the morning, and I had 2 sausage fingers that were getting biweekly cortisone shots. After taking all 3 meds for 4 months, I set out for a very easy 5 km hike and had to stop and be assisted back because my quads were aching so much. When I got home I started peeing red. I went into the hospital and it turned out I had rhabdomyolysis in my legs. My CK factor was through the roof (if that means anything to anyone). I was taken off all my meds even though EVERY doctor claimed it had nothing to do with the rhabdo. They did a biopsy of my quad and weren't able to find anything.

After I was taken off my meds (and my legs healed from the rhabdo), I had a few small flare ups in my fingers and my feet, but nothing major. I was living gluten-free and alcohol-free and paying more attention to avoiding foods I'm allergic too. That lasted for close to a year, I then got pregnant, and breastfed for a year, then pregnant again. It did wonders for my arthritis, no symptoms and I could eat bread and cake! But now it has returned. I'm trying going gluten-free, alcohol-free and experimenting with taking other foods out of my diet, I seem to find some relieve from avoiding some foods but no silver bullet(s).

Given my experience with meds, I'm very hesitant to go back to the Rheumy and get his inevitable advice that I go back on meds. Hopefully there is someone out there who has had good experience with changing diet or climate or shoes=) or anything else besides meds! Anyone?

Hi Frankie,
I cant give you any advise on diet or exercise. From what I understand, this disease is progressive and even though you dont take meds the disease is still there. Also, I have read from other post, symptoms usually subside during pregnancy.

I hope you feel better soon.

I had remissions with both my pregnancies. It's very common to have a very bad flare a few months after the birth however. You WILL need meds to get a post-partum flare under control.

Have you ever been on a biologic like Enbrel? Enbrel came out just as I was in the middle of a post-partum flare. It kicked me into a remission that lasted a couple of years. I was asymptomatic as long as I was on it (no other meds).

Hey Frankie,

I barely skimmed your post (sorry, I don't like to read), IF you are officialy diagnosed with Psa/or you feel like your symptems include swolloen finger, toes and, some type of psoriasis, either on your skin or under your nails, you more than likely have Psoriatic Arthritis. If you are also diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis you will be more susceptible to renal damage. Nsaids/some DMARDs are harmful to the kidney and often causes kidney damage.

That being said...your Dr. should take that into consideration and opt to go directly into a biological drug like Enbrel/humira/Remicade. If Your Dr. isn't okay with that and you DO have Psa you should find a new Dr!!

Also, if you have Psa, you may go into remission per-say, but your body will not stop attacking your joint. You can not think that it has stopped or "gone away". You need to be on a Bio to slow the progression no matter how good you feel today. "IF YOU HAVE Psa" It's kinda like a mental patient whom thinks he/she isn't crazy and stops his/her meds!

Leave it to Robert to cut to the chase, but he is right. Its not just the joints that are attacked. Organs too. I was finally put on the right track by a cardiologist treating me for heart failure. The chances of type II diabetes are vey much higher. Then there is thyroid, adrenalls and a few others. The WORST indicator of where you are with PsA is joint pain.

I will join the choir here and say that the drugs are essential in preventing/ slowing damage to your joints. Going unmedicated even when you feel well isn’t an option, because joint destruction is still happening. Some people do state that their symptoms are better with diet changes, but medication management needs to be part of the plan.

I have had aches and pains since I was in fifth grade. No one really believed me, and I just decided it wasn’t that bad. I sucked it up for nearly 25 years, until PsA hit full force. Now, I get to wear braces on my wrists any time I need to do work with my hands, have a handicap parking permit, and use a cane to walk. By 3 pm each day, I feel like my knees are grinding on sandpaper. I am 34 years old. I also have 3 boys aged 16, 13, & 9. I am managing pretty well now, but my new normal still includes constant pain, limited mobility, and having to say “no” to the activities my kids want to do. I have wondered how things would have been different if someone had diagnosed me even 10years ago.

Anyhoo, the point of that story is not to make you feel sorry for me (please don’t, I’m actually doing really well for me) or to one-up your symptoms. It was to illustrate how very real the consequences of not having treatment are. To me, I would rather have risked the meds years ago and feel more like a young-ish mom, than somebody’s granny. It sucks to not be able to take my kids hiking, camping, or floating like we used to, or to go home early because I’m hurting or tired. It sounds like you are working on a full house yourself, and you want to be able to be an active mom for your kids. If you have untreated PsA, it has the capacity to forever change you physically, and not in a good way.

You are lucky that you had no luck with the DMARDs. Your doc should be able to skip them and go straight for a biologic. Most of us have results with them, though it sometimes takes trying a few before you find the right fit. These drugs can do incredible things for PsA patients. Please don’t wait to go to your doctor, and keep an open mind regarding medication management of PsA. Your kids will thank you for it.

Thanks everyone for all your posts and information. I really appreciate it. You are all right, I need to see my Rheumy again. I finally phoned for an appointment this week, and it's been so long, the receptionist is actually making me go back to my GP for a new referral - though she did say she would put me on the standby list. I'll be sure to bring up reasons to put be on a biologic to the dr. We shall see how it goes. I'm in Canada and not sure how easy it is to get on them here.

I have twice been officially diagnosed. As much as I tried to pin my sausage fingers and achy feet on something else, it was quite obviously PSA. GrumpyCat, I can definitely relate to the pain in childhood - I was always told it was "growing pains". I also had hypothyroidism during my second pregnancy - I didn't think it was related, but I guess it probably was.

I'll be sure to update the discussion once I have my next doctor appointment.

Yay, Frankie!

It all starts with the first phone call and sometimes, I think that’s the hardest one to make. I don’t know what Canada’s drug rules are, but the facts are that you had rhabdo that you and the doc believe were related to either the meds you were taking or a combination of meds and PsA. I would hope that any doctor would be very careful in prescribing any treatment that will be hard on your kidneys.

I have noticed quite a few comments on here from folks who have had some sort of thyroid issue or another that they believe could be related to PsA. I do believe that I read and confirmed that it is more common to have thyroid disease with PsA, but since I can’t remember where and I’m too lazy to Google right now, don’t quote me on it!

I’m relived that you are going to look into envy thing further. Your symptoms must be pretty classic if you have been diagnosed by two different docs. Some PsA-ers wait years for one confirmation. Yes, treatment can be a bear with the DMARDs, much more so than the biologics, but I am really hopeful for you that you’ll be able to get right on the biologic fast-track.

Of course, I wish you the best of luck with your illness and hope for right treatment on the first try. If ou need anything, please feel free to message me. I am always available if you need an ear to bend.