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Has your doctor recommended that you take more than one drug for rheumatoid arthritis? That’s combination therapy, and it can help you move better and with less pain. It could also slow or stop joint damage caused by RA.

When you first find out you have the condition, you probably start taking one drug, usually methotrexate. If that doesn’t give you enough relief, your doctor would add another drug. If your RA is more severe, your doctor may have prescribed more than one medication right away.

Which Medications?

You’ll likely take methotrexate as part of combination therapy, plus a similar drug (such as hydroxychloroquine, leflunomide, and sulfasalazine) or with a medication called a biologic.

Biologics are genetically engineered, and several types of them treat RA. They work on your immune system to curb joint pain, swelling, and inflammation, so you can move better.

Your combination therapy would not include two biologics, though, because of the greater chance of infection.

It may take some trial and error to find the medicines that together work best for you.

What to Expect

Combination therapy can mean less joint pain, morning stiffness, and inflammation. It can also help slow or stop your RA from getting worse. You might be able to have a more active life.

Some people may go into remission, which means they don't have any joint pain or swelling or other RA symptoms. The goal of treatment is to relieve your symptoms as much as possible without side effects from your medicine.

Taking more than one medication can't reverse joint damage that you already have, and it’s not a cure. But it can prevent further damage and help you avoid other health risks that can come with rheumatoid arthritis, such as heart attack and stroke.

WebMD Medical Reference