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What Are NSAIDs for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They are commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). NSAIDs help manage the chronic pain, inflammation, and swelling of RA.

NSAIDs don’t stop or slow down the disease, and they don’t prevent further joint damage. You need other types of RA drugs for that.

How Do They Work?

When you have pain from rheumatoid arthritis, the damaged tissue releases chemicals called prostaglandins, which trigger inflammation. NSAIDs block prostaglandins. The result: less inflammation, pain, and stiffness.

NSAIDs can sometimes cause stomach ulcers, bleeding, and even kidney damage.

These drugs vary in their strength and the chance that they will have side effects.

What Are Some NSAIDS Used for Rheumatoid Arthritis?


Arthrotec is an NSAID that combines diclofenac with the drug misoprostol to help prevent stomach irritation.

Prevacid Naprapac combines naproxen with the acid blocker lansoprazole (Prevacid) to reduce the chance of developing stomach ulcers. Vimovo is a combination of naproxen and the acid blocker esomeprazole (Nexium).

Cox-2 inhibitors are a form of prescription NSAID and work similarly to older NSAIDs. However, Cox-2 inhibitors are less likely to cause stomach problems, such as ulcers. Cox-2 inhibitors offer the same pain relief as standard NSAIDs, but have a lower risk of stomach problems.

Celebrex is the only Cox-2 inhibitor. Due to its expense, it is not as easy as other agents to get through insurance coverage.

All prescription NSAIDs are linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.



Do All NSAIDs Increase the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke?

All prescription NSAIDs raise the risk of heart attack and stroke and carry a strong warning about that. It’s likely greatest for people who have other heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking.

If you have questions, ask your doctor. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis take NSAIDs for relief of pain and swelling.

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