My Treatment: Alison Burbank

  • Name: Alison Burbank
  • From: Baton Rouge, La.
  • Age when diagnosed: 5 (psoriasis) 20 (psoriatic arthritis)
  • Age now: 26
  • Diagnosis: Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
  • Past treatments: Various topicals, steroids, Dead Sea salts, coal tar, light therapy, Enbrel and Humira
  • Current treatment: Remicade, methotrexate, Beta-Val (ointment) and Tarsum shampoo for scalp psoriasis
  • Status: Mostly clear. Joint pain has improved.

Alison Burbank has tried it all: steriods, ointments, Dead Sea salts, light therapy, coal tar. She even gave the biologic drugs Humira and Enbrel a try. But in every case, either the treatment didn't work or had too many side effects to be bearable.

"Sometime in middle or high school, after seeing so many doctors and trying so many ointments, etc. that I lost count, I gave up, Burbank said. "In the spring of 2012, I began having more health issues and went to see a new primary care physician. She ended up being the best (primary care physician) I've ever met.

Dr. Rachel Gruner, of the Baton Rouge Clinic in Louisiana, referred Burbank to a new dermatologist by the name of Dr. Stephanie Frederic, also at the Baton Rouge Clinic. Frederic asked Burbank about her treatment history and suggested Burbank try Remicade.

"I had previously tried Humira, without any improvement, and Enbrel, which I ended up being allergic to, Burbank said. "So, I was used to the general idea of immune suppression and was not worried about that aspect at all. At the same, I couldn't help but doubt the ability of this medication.

Burbank's first infusion took about two to three hours and within a few weeks, she noticed a dramatic difference.

"I was shocked, and in the best of ways, she said. "I couldn't believe how great my arms looked. Eventually, my knees were clear and the plaques on my shins were at least smoother. For the first time in my life, I was able to shave my legs without them bleeding.

Burbank has been on Remicade for more than a year and still has a few problem areas, but is overall happy with the result. Her dermatologist recently started Burbank on methotrexate as well, and Burbank she is improving even more.

"And now, I wish all of it would clear up;  the improvement has made me a little greedy, wanting it more and more clear all the time, she said.

Burbank recently learned about the importance of treating psoriatic arthritis to limit joint damage, and that has strengthened her commitment to seek effective treatment. She also has fibromyalgia, and those symptoms are improving as well.

"I've learned that treating any chronic illness truly is a process of trial and error and is very dependent on having a good doctor, she said.

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