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How long does it take for Humira to work?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on March 22, 2021.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Most patients using the biologic agent Humira (adalimumab) will start to feel relief from their symptoms within 2 to 12 weeks. Your results will vary based on your condition being treated and other factors, such as tolerability to treatment and other medications you may be using.

Humira (adalimumab) is an injectable biologic drug used to treat many different diseases where inflammation can lead to pain and swelling. Conditions commonly treated by Humira include rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, plaque psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, and psoriatic arthritis. Humira will not cure these diseases but may help to relieve your symptoms and control your disease worsening.

Rheumatoid arthritis

  • For patients with rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms of pain, swelling and joint stiffness can begin to subside within 2 weeks, but it may take 12 weeks or longer in some patients.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term, autoimmune disease that leads to joint swelling (inflammation), pain, redness, warmth, and stiffness. Areas that are most commonly involved include the wrists, fingers, feet and ankles, and knees.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

  • In studies in patients 4-17 years of age with polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), fewer patients had a disease flare (a worsening of symptoms) during the 32-week period. This included patients treated with or without methotrextae.
  • In studies in patients 4-17 years of age with polyarticular JIA, more children treated with Humira plus methotrexate (63%) had at least a 70% improvement in their symptoms at Week 48 compared with those who took methotrexate without Humira (27%).

Humira is used alone, with methotrexate, or with other medicines to reduce the signs and symptoms of moderate to severe polyarticular JIA in children 2 years of age and older.

Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis tends to affect 5 or more joints, often the same joints in the same areas on either side of the body. For example, the neck, jaw joints, and small joints in the hands and feet can be affected. Polyarticular JIA can lead to symptoms like stiffness that is worse in the morning, and painful, swollen and tender joints.

Psoriatic arthritis

  • For patients with psoriatic arthritis, symptoms of pain, swelling and joint stiffness can begin to subside within 2 weeks, but it may take 12 weeks or longer in some patients.
  • Symptoms may flare up but alternate with periods of disease remission (few or no symptoms).

Psoriatic arthritis may develop in people who have the skin condition psoriasis. With psoriatic arthritis, joint pain, stiffness and swelling are the main symptoms and affect any part of your body.

Plaque psoriasis

  • In clinical trials for plaque psoriasis, adult patients using Humira saw 75% up to 90% clearer skin in as little as 4 months.
  • Symptoms may flare up but alternate with periods of disease remission (few or no symptoms).

Plaque psoriasis is a chronic (long-lasting) skin condition that results in areas of thickened, red, swollen skin that may be covered with silvery-looking scales. Plaque psoriasis is not contagious.

Ankylosing spondylitis

  • In a clinical study of patients using Humira for ankylosing spondylitis (AS), some people had an improvement in AS symptoms as soon as 2 weeks. However, it may take up to 12 weeks or longer for a noticeable improvement.
  • Flexibility of your neck and back can decrease due to AS, and lead to morning stiffness, difficulty sleeping and inability to do normal daily activities such as getting dressed or bathing.

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory joint disease primarily of the lower back that causes small bones in your spine (vertebrae) to fuse.

Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis

  • In Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, some adults may start to see results within 4 weeks after starting Humira treatment, but most people see an improvement by 8 weeks. In adults with Crohn's disease, roughly one-third of patients may achieve remission (few or no symptoms) by 4 weeks after starting treatment.
  • In clinical studies in children 6 years and older with Crohn's disease, more than half of the patients on Humira saw symptom relief and many achieved remission (few or no symptoms) at 26 weeks
  • In ulcerative colitis studies in children 5 years of age and older, the majority of patients were in remission (few or no symptoms) after 8 weeks of treatment. In addition, many children who responded by week 8 were in remission at 1 year, so the results can be long-lasting.

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease which leads to long-term inflammation (pain and swelling) of the gastrointestinal tract, usually affecting the intestines, but other areas may be involved as well. Typical symptoms of Crohn’s disease include stomach pain, an urgency to have a bowel movement, weight loss, diarrhea and tiredness.

Ulcerative colitis inflammation affects only the large intestine and ulcers develop along the lining of your colon and rectum. Symptoms may include diarrhea, often with blood or pus, stomach cramping, rectal pain, weight loss, tiredness, or fever.

Hidradenitis suppurativa

  • Over 600 adult patients with moderate to severe hidradenitis suppurativa were studied in a clinical trial with Humira. Humira reduced the total number of inflammatory nodules and abscesses by at least 50% in 12 weeks. Results were seen without an increase in draining wounds and abscesses

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a long-lasting condition that leads to skin inflammation (swelling), bumps and abscesses in certain areas of the body such as the groin, under the arms, under the breasts, buttocks and inner thighs.

Uveitis

  • In a clinical study of adult patients with uveitis using Humira, patients saw a difference in their disease symptoms as quickly as 6 weeks.
  • In studies, patients treated with Humira had a significantly lower risk for treatment failure, defined as a combination of uveitic flare and decrease in visual acuity, compared to placebo.

Uveitis can lead to permanent vision loss.Uveitis is an inflammatory eye disease that leads to swelling in the uvea, the middle layer of the eye that is below the white of the eye. The uvea includes the iris, choroid, and the ciliary body.

Bottom Line

  • Your results with Humira will vary based on your medical condition, but most patients start to feel relief from Humira within 2 to 12 weeks.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, swelling and joint stiffness can begin to subside within 2 weeks. The full effect may take up to 3 months.
  • For intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, results may start within 4 weeks after starting Humira treatment, and most people see an improvement by 8 weeks.

See also: Humira: One Drug, Nine Uses, Billions of Dollars

This is not all the information you need to know about Humira for safe and effective use and does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your treatment. Review the full product information here, and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.

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