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Rheumatoid Arthritis - Medications

Medicines to relieve symptoms

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. NSAIDs are used to control pain and may help reduce inflammation. They don't control the disease or stop it from getting worse. NSAIDs may be combined with DMARDs.
  • Corticosteroids such as prednisone. These medicines are used to reduce disease activity and joint inflammation. But using only corticosteroids for an extended time is not considered the best treatment. Corticosteroids are often used to control symptoms and flares of joint inflammation until DMARDs reach their full effectiveness.
  • Analgesics (pain relievers). These don't reduce inflammation but may help with pain control. They include:

What to think about

  • Some DMARDs can take up to 6 months to work.
  • In some people, a certain DMARD may not work at all. So a different DMARD will be used.
  • If you're taking DMARDs, it's a good idea to have a rheumatologist manage your care.
  • Many DMARDs have serious side effects. You will need regular blood and urine tests to check the drug's effects on blood-producing cells (bone marrow), the kidneys, and the liver.
  • If you have other conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend that you take medicine to control them.

Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 29, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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