Arthritis During Pregnancy

So quite a few people have asked me how my arthritis is doing during my pregnancy, so I thought I’d go ahead and give an update here.Who knows, maybe some other poor preggo with arthritis will stumble on this blog and it’ll help her in some way or another.

Background info: I’ve had psoriasis on my hands and feet since I was about 19, so 11 years. When I was 28, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (warning: if you click on this link you will see a gross picture. And no I don’t have it that bad). Basically, about 20% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. It’s an immune system disorder and mimics rheumatoid arthritis, but is usually generalized to the hands and feet, and sometimes the spine. That’s a super brief synopsis of course, but you get the idea. It sucks.

When I was first diagnosed my toes were swollen up like sausages and I could hardly walk. I tried a couple of biologics, including Enbrel, and finally settled on Humira. Basically, I gave myself a shot once a week that acted as a TNF blocker, and it slowed the inflammation dramatically. I felt good on Humira. My toes weren’t swollen, things didn’t hurt, and I was pretty much able to forget I had arthritis (aside from sticking myself with a needle once a week).

When I decided to try to get pregnant, I stopped the Humira, knowing that it might cause some serious flare-ups, but not wanting to risk anything with the baby. Most of these drugs have been on the market for less than ten years, and they certainly haven’t been tested on pregnant women, so no one really knows what the effects might be.

Today I’m a little over 6 1/2 months pregnant (holy crap!), and I’ve been off of my meds for about 9 months. As the months have progressed, my symptoms have gotten worse and worse, but shockingly they aren’t as bad as I thought they would be. My doctor even told me that he thinks pregnancy has technically improved my symptoms, because if I went off the drugs without the counterbalance of the baby growing inside me and all the hormones that come with it, my symptoms would be much much worse.

That said, I don’t feel great every day. But I don’t feel terrible either. Most days I wake up and my feet ache and my fingers are swollen. No I’m not to the point where I can’t open a jar or button a button, but you know, it’s just something else to deal with. Pregnancy comes with a lot of aches and pains though, so I’m kind of just thinking of as another one of those. I also seem to have acquired plantar fasciitis in my left heel, in part due to this inflammation, according to my doc. In other part due to my “pretty shoes.” Whatever. They’re flats. I’m not wearing white sneakers to work. I’m just not doing it.

I guess what I’m more worried about is after I have this baby, and I don’t have all of these lovely hormones raging around inside me, but I still can’t go back on my meds because I’m breastfeeding. Then what? Do things get really bad? Do my toes bend and fuse? I don’t know. Hopefully not, but that remains to be seen. For now, I’m just counting down the days until I get to meet this little girl. And crossing my fingers I’m not passing this crappy immune system disorder on to her.