Hello. I started taking hydroxychloroquine in early January and I read that it can take up to 12 weeks to kick in. Since starting it I have had two new (extremely painful) flare ups. Can I assume it isn't working for me? Does anyone have any experience of it kicking in at about 12 weeks in?

Hi Gwynneth,

Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is a very slow to act drug. I remember my doc telling me it would take at least a month for it to get into my system and, if I decided to stop taking it, at least a month for it to leave my system. My response to Plaquenil in the beginning was dramatic. As I recall, I actually began to notice improvements at two weeks, and about ten weeks for that improvement to level off. It is not at all unusual for it to take 12 weeks to notice improvements with Plaquenil. Some people report improvements at 5-6 months.

Hmm. Having had two flare ups since starting it I am guessing I am one of those people it doesn't work for. I am seeing my rheumatologist next week and I think I will beg her for a prednisone (steroid) jab. It cures all my PsA symptoms almost instantly - not a cure but it is nice to be pain free for six weeks!

Hiya Ive been on it since July last year and It took until about October to have some effect, even then I didnt find much relief, I started Methotrexate in November when I have the definative diagnosis,the side effects were awful, buy it really helped my joints. Ive recently had an op so been off it and am really feeling it, cant wait to go onto injections, cos side effects are less. Hang in there a bit longer hun, its not a wonder worker unfortunatley, think we have to try a few drugs before we get the right one, well reading the sites it seems that way. Are they giving you Methotrexate or something else at all??

Partly my own fault as I have been pushing back on taking methotrexate as I was convinced it was my stressy job triggering the symptoms. Have removed stressy job from the equation expecting an immediate improvement... well, as you can guess there wasn't. As I have 'mild*' PsA and no signs of psoriasis the rheumatologist thought hydroxychloroquine may just do the job.

* it's all relative. It doesn't feel mild to me when I'm hobbling along doing the school run but after reading this forum I realise that my symptoms are not actually as bad as some of the poor sufferers on here.

Hiya how come they diagnosed PsA if you dont have Psoriasis??, and not seronegative RA??? my rheumatologist was going too, until I scratched my scalp and she looked and said oh yes Psoriatic Arthritis. Where in Hampshire are you ??

My father has psoriasis quite badly so that is the link. No idea on why the rheumatologist doesn't think it is seronegative RA! I'm seeing her on Wednesday so will ask. I'm in Basingstoke.

PS which bit of Hampshire are you in?

Im in Portsmouth :)

Ah by the sea. I used to work there (at the naval base, not the stressy job I mentioned earlier though I hasten to add!). Off for an early night now and the optimistic hope that I'll wake up in the morning and nothing will hurt anymore. I've been doing that for 18 months and it still hasn't happened...

Yeah we live right nr the beach, good night then hun, and yeah I know what you mean, oh to be pain free eh, night night, chat soon maybe :)

Hi Gwynneth, I hope I didn't discourage you by telling you my reaction to Plaquenil. It isn't at all typical to get improvement that quickly (at two weeks) like I did. It usually takes much longer. At first it helped fatigue most of all. Then I noticed improvements in my back and neck, then elbows (a God send) and fingers. All of that took about three months. I found it to be a great drug for several years, and it kept me off the prednisone. (nasty side FX with long-term pred.) But I agree very much that prednisone provides wonderful relief!! I've had no side FX from Plaquenil except a discolored spot on my ankle that looks like a bruise. No big deal.

I suppose I just wanted an immediate cure! It’s amazing to think that there isn’t a simple cure out there to fix PsA.

I think we would all like that!! Unfortunatly this is a disease that we all have to live with for the rest of out lives. :(
BUt in saying that there are some wonderful treatments that can help. Finding the treatments that work, thats is a whole other story!!

GwynnethP said:

I suppose I just wanted an immediate cure! It's amazing to think that there isn't a simple cure out there to fix PsA.

Rheumatologist has decided that MTX is best so I now have a prescription for that and some prednisone. Fingers crossed all this works!

I have PsA and NO psoriasis...apparently in 10-20% of the cases the arthritis can precede the skin condition by as much as 20 years.

Something to look forward to then…

oh god....NOOOOOOO!!!!!

dani - I'm also one of the ones with NO psoriasis (we so far as I know). Did have a lot of trouble with my scalp for years - but nothing other than very short term flairs since being under the treatment of a Rhemy. It is the lack of the skin disease that made diagnosis so hard. Have been treated for years for Undifferentiated before I finally got the PsA diagnosis. Everything else is pretty much ruled out - and the symptoms only fit PsA - all my tendons Hurt! ankles, knees, shoulders, SI joints. I'm fortunate, that there is not much pain in my hands - I need them for work!!!

dani7865 said:

I have PsA and NO psoriasis...apparently in 10-20% of the cases the arthritis can precede the skin condition by as much as 20 years.

hi i have been on hydroxychloroquine for about the same time , and believe it as made my pain worse but spoke to the consultant and have been told to percivere it can take up to 6 months to get full benefit but i have also read it can make things worse for psa but the next step is mtx and not in no hurry to start i also suffer with psorisis, nad use many differant creams but eveen though it took docs 3 years to diagnose