Medications to Treat Arthritis
It is important that you treat the underlying arthritis or related disease that is ultimately causing your pain. Although there are no disease-modifying medications available to reverse or eliminate osteoarthritis or centralized pain syndrome, there are effective medications available to treat inflammatory forms of arthritis and related diseases. Reducing inflammation will help reduce your pain.
All medications have risks. But for most people, the risk of joint damage, organ damage and disability by not treating the underlying disease may be greater. If you are concerned about side effects of arthritis medications, talk with your doctor. He or she can help you understand the potential risks specifically for you, so you can get the most good with the least harm.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and lupus. There are three types of DMARDs: traditional, targeted and biologics. Each DMARD works in different ways to slow or stop the inflammatory process that causes pain and can damage joints and internal organs.
- Traditional DMARDs have a broad immune-suppressing effect and can take several weeks to work. They can be used in combination, which is called “double” or “triple” therapy. Your doctor may prescribe other medicines to relieve your pain and inflammation while these DMARDs take effect. They come in pill or liquid form, can be self-injected or infused in a doctor’s office.
- Targeted DMARDs are oral medications that work on specific parts of the inflammatory and immune response. They can take several weeks to take effect, so your doctor may prescribe other medicines to relieve your pain and inflammation in the meantime.
- Biologics interrupt specific stages of the inflammatory and immune response. They work faster than traditional or targeted DMARDs. These medications are self-injected or infused in a doctor’s office.
- Uric-acid lowering medications are available to treat gout. Some decrease production of uric acid, and others increase the elimination of uric acid through your kidneys. With medication and lifestyle changes, painful flares of the disease can often be stopped or kept to a minimum.