Rheumatoid arthritis medication: What works?

Rheumatoid arthritis medication may be divided into four categories. Which of these are effective? Read on.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the result of inflammation in the lining of joints. Early detection coupled with effective rheumatoid arthritis medications is the most effective treatment.

This multi-pronged strategy must be combined with lifestyle factors like exercise and diet to slow down or even arrest the progress of this degenerative disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by mild to severe discomfort and pain. Patients experience aching joints, loss of motion, fatigue and low grade fever.

In some cases, these symptoms disappear after a few months to a few years of the onset of the disease. However, in most cases, rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong condition that requires the use of rheumatoid arthritis medication to help relieve symptoms and manage the disease effectively.

NSAIDs

Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs are the first line of defense against pain and inflammation. NSAIDs may be divided into two categories: prescription and non-prescription.

Non-prescription NSAIDs include medicines like aspirin and Motrin etc. Prescription NSAIDs include medicines like Voltaren and Flurbiprofen.

Cox2 Inhibitors also come under the category of NSAIDs. These help arrest inflammation by blocking the production of enzymes that increase inflammation.

NSAIDs perform the following functions:

  • Relieve pain
  • Improve range of movement
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Arrest further joint, bone and cartilage damage
  • Prevent long-term disability

Due to these factors, these medicines help improve the quality of life of patients who take in these medicines.

DMARDs:

Other important rheumatoid arthritis medications include DMARDs (Disease Modifying Anti-rheumatic Drugs). These drugs arrest the production of those cells that lead to pain and inflammation in the body.

If DMARDs are started early enough, patients may experience remission of the disease. According to experts, prolonged use of DMARDs may prolong the benefits derived from using these drugs. Even so, DMARDs cannot prevent permanent joint damage.

Corticosteroids:

In acute cases, where pain and inflammation cannot be alleviated by other treatment methods, corticosteroid injections are given in the area of inflammation and tenderness.

However, corticosteroids are only used to relieve symptoms of flare-ups and may not be used for long term treatment as these could have undesirable side effects.

BRMs:

Biologic Response Medicines are rheumatoid arthritis medications used in the advanced stages of the disease. These medicines block the action of hormones that are responsible for inflammation.

Alternative medicines:

Other that the above, alternative medicines are also recommended for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. However, the amount of research and study that has gone into the development of these medicines is not nearly sufficient and there is no proof about the effectiveness of these medicines.

Of these medications, DMARDs, corticosteroids and BRMs may be associated with serious side effects. Patients who are using rheumatoid arthritis medication must undergo regular urine tests to ascertain that they are free of harmful side effects.



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