Side Effects Possible With Arthritis Medications

The most common side effects of rheumatoid arthritis treatments.


All medications – even ones you buy without a prescription – have the potential for side effects. Arthritis medications are no exception.

It is impossible to list all of the side effects of arthritis medications because different drugs cause different side effects and different people react differently to medications. However, some of the more common side effects of the different categories of medications used to treat arthritis are:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Edema (swelling of the feet) heartburn, stomach upset and stomach ulcers and possibly increased risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke.

Cortiocosteroids. Cataracts, elevated blood fats and blood sugar levels, increased appetite and bone loss.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Stomach upset and increased susceptibility to infection. Other side effects vary by drug.

Biologic agents. Injection site reactions, including redness and swelling; infusion reactions (difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, rapid or weak pulse) and increased risk of serious infections. Other side effects vary by drug.

When prescribing medications, you and your doctor will need to weigh the potential risks against the benefits you hope and expect to achieve.

You should speak with your doctor about ways to minimize medication side effects, such as adjusting the dosage or timing of medication, taking it with food or taking another medication to counteract the side effect.

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