Being squeamish is normal, but it gets easier each time.
Fear of needles is very common. If your doctor is recommending biologics to treat your psoriatic arthritis, it’s understandable to be nervous. However, there are many tips to help face your fear of needles so you can have success with biologics.
For what it’s worth, today’s biologics often come in auto-injector pens. They don’t look like syringes, and you don’t have to manually “push” the medicine in. You simply push a button and the pen does the rest. Plus, the needles are very small, and they’re hidden within the pen. For this reason, many people realize that using biologics is much easier than they first expected. Learn more here about how to give yourself an injection for psoriatic arthritis.
How can I cope with a fear of needles when using biologics?
There are several tips that can help if you have a fear of needles (or if they just make you a little uncomfortable). Some tips include:
- Find a comfortable place to sit and relax
- Play calming music before and during the injection
- Ice the injection site beforehand, which helps numb the area
- Practice under the supervision of a doctor to grow your confidence
- Have a doctor or physician’s assistant perform the injection for you
- Ask a loved one to help, either by providing emotional support or by doing the injection for you
What if my needle phobia is severe?
The majority of people do get more comfortable self-injecting their biologics over time. However, some people do have serious fears or even phobias of needles. There are a couple options if you can’t overcome your fear of needles and it’s getting in the way of your treatment success.
First, your doctor may decide that a different type of medicine is better for you. For example, there are oral and infusion options. However, there’s always a risk that these options may not treat you as well as the biologic could have. This decision will involve weighing the risks and benefits for your health and well-being.
Second, there’s a possibility that you might benefit from anti-anxiety medicines to help with severe injection phobias. You would take the prescribed dose beforehand to help avoid anxiety symptoms or even panic attacks during the injection. This isn’t the right path for everyone, but it may help for some.
What should I do if I’m afraid of using my biologic?
If your fear of needles is causing you to avoid your treatment, then that treatment is not a good fit for you. If you’re skipping doses, you’re not benefiting from this medicine. It’s very important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible about your concerns.
Your doctor can either help you using one of the above tips, or they may change your psoriatic arthritis medication. They want to help you find a treatment that works for you, and that includes finding a treatment that you can realistically stick with.
Saakshi Khattri, MD, is a rheumatologist and assistant professor at the Department of Rheumatology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.