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How pain-free Humira changed my patient journey with IBD

I’ll always remember the day my gastroenterologist walked into my hospital room in July 2008 and told me I needed to start taking a biologic drug. I was petrified of giving myself an injection. I was scared of side effects. I was overwhelmed by the severity of my disease. It was an emotional moment in my patient journey that still pains me to think about to this day.

A painful shot

It’s not easy to inflict pain upon yourself. Pain that is so intense it’s hard to put into words. Pain that quite literally sets the bar for how you endure pain in all other aspects of your life. Whether it was getting an epidural for my c-section with my first born or going through countless IV attempts in one sitting. Everything has always paled in comparison to my Humira shots.

The first few months of administering the injections, I would cry and feel sorry for myself. I would wallow in my apartment all alone. Starring at the large epi-pen like object on my counter. It was a process each and every time. No matter how many years passed by, the injection brought me anxiety and worry. At the same time, I felt extremely grateful to finally find a drug that was able to manage my Crohn’s and keep me out of the hospital. I was grateful I could treat my disease from the comfort of my couch, in the privacy of my home. I was appreciative of the fact that I had insurance that made the injection affordable.

A game changer

So much of this stress changed in September 2018. The first time I ever experienced Citrate-free Humira. Abbvie recently launched and released “pain-free” Humira to pediatric and adult patients this summer. There are truly no words to capture what a game changer this is for patients young and old. The patient experience is night and day. You feel nothing. You go from feeling everything, oftentimes so much pain tears stream down your face. To nothing. You can actually smile while holding the needle in your leg. Click here to watch a video of my first experience trying Citrate-free Humira.

I never dreamed this day would come

Not only is the needle thinner (now a 27-gauge needle vs. a 29-gauge needle), there is 50 percent less liquid inside the pen. That’s less liquid that needs to go inside your body while getting the same amount of active Humira ingredient (adalimumab). After more than a decade on this biologic drug, my patient experience every other Monday night when I do the injection is completely different.

As a mom of a toddler and with a baby girl on the way in January, my children will never see the angst and pain on my face as I receive my medication. I no longer have to feel the looming dread of my injections. Back in 2008, I never dreamed this day would come. It makes me so happy for all the pediatric patients and their parents. So many people, for so many years, would need someone to help them do their injection. Some even needed anti-anxiety medication prior to doing the injection. This new formula, alleviates the need for all of that.

These advancements are so promising

It’s so promising to see strides like this in medicine. I can only assume this is the tip of the iceberg and that treatment for IBD will continue to be tailored to fit patients’ lifestyles and needs. If you haven’t made the change already, make sure you talk with your GI doctor about switching your mail-order prescription to the “Citrate-free Humira.” Once the prescription is submitted, double check the update is cleared through insurance and then talk with your pharmacy about making the change. The extra legwork on your part is so worth the endpoint.

My husband has sat on the couch and cheered me on each and every injection since the day we met more than five years ago. This past Monday, for the first time ever, I took my injection out of the fridge while he was bathing our son and did it by myself on the couch, with no pain whatsoever. I walked into the bathroom with a big smile on my face and told him it was a perfect shot. My little guy took a short break from playing with his sailboats in the bathtub and smiled back. In that moment, I felt eternally grateful to be at this point and to have this type of medication to treat my disease, so I can be happily present for my family.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • hennesseygurl
    11 months ago

    I just had my Doctor remove me from Humira, he put me on methotrexate, then I started seeing commercials for this citrate free humira. Besides the pain of the shot, I would be down for about 3 days due to nauseous, no energy, etc. can anyone who might have had the same symptoms after the shot know if this new humira has eliminated the other side effects? Thank you!!!

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi @hennesseygurl,

    This is a great question. I used to be on Humira and the citrate sting was something I never got used to. From what I understand, the only difference with the citrate free pen, is that it is citrate free. I feel like if you had those symptoms, it was due to the humira medication. So not sure if being citrate free would make much of a difference, only in just the injecting aspect.

    However, I encourage you to post this question on our Question and Answer page so that more people from our community can see it, and therefore you will have more people chime in. Here is the link:

    I hope this helps!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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