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What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications

There are many rheumatoid arthritis medications available to lower joint pain, swelling, and inflammation. Some of these drugs prevent or slow the progression of the disease.

Drugs that offer relief of arthritis symptoms (joint pain, stiffness, and swelling) include:

  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen
  • Topical (applied directly to the skin) pain relievers
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • Narcotic pain relievers

There are also many strong medications called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which work by interfering with or suppressing the immune system's attack on the joints. They include:

  • Plaquenil (originally used to treat malaria)
  • Immune suppression drugs, such as methotrexate, Imuran, and Cytoxan
  • Biologic treatments, such as Actemra, Cimzia, Kineret, Simponi, Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, Orencia, and Rituxan
  • Other drugs, such as Azulfidine, Arava, and Xeljanz

Why Are Rest and Exercise Important for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

A balance of rest and exercise is important in treating rheumatoid arthritis. During flare-ups, when joint inflammation gets worse, it is best to rest the joints. Using a cane or joint splints can help during flare-ups.

When joint inflammation gets better, exercise is necessary to keep joints flexible and to strengthen the muscles that surround the joints. doing range-of-motion exercises will help keep joints healthy.

When Is Surgery Necessary for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

When joint damage from the rheumatoid arthritis has become severe or pain is not controlled with drugs, surgery may help.

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Be Cured?

Although there isn't a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, early, aggressive treatment has been shown to help prevent disability.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on April 30, 2012
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