Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications
Even though there is no definite treatment for rheumatoid arthritis or RA at present, there are various availablemedications in pharmacies that are designed to manage its symptoms and in due course improve the patientï¿½scondition.
In general, drugs for rheumatoid arthritis can be grouped into different types, as discussed below. Doctors willoften create proper medical treatment to manage inflammation and pain of the joints, plus avert joint damage. Ona case to case basis, the most effective treatment can be achieved through a combination of the following options:
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs, a.k.a. NSAIDs
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs, otherwise known as NSAIDs, are effective in relieving pain and reducinginflammation, but do not serve to prevent further joint. These medications hinder your body from the production ofprostaglandins, which which sets off pain and inflammation.
Common NSAID examples are naproxen (Aleve and Naprosyn) and ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin). Some moreNSAIDs include ketoprofen (Orudis), meloxicam (Mobic), etodolac (Lodine), Celecoxib (Celebrex), oxaprozin(Daypro), indomethacin diclofenac (Voltaren and Cataflam), piroxicam (Feldene), and nabumetone (Relafen).
NSAIDs are regularly advised as soon as a definite diagnosis of RA is made. But keep in mind that whenconsumed in high doses for prolonged periods, these drugs can cause severe side effects, such as stomachulcers, stomach bleeding, as well as liver and kidney damage. Corticosteroids
A different classification of RA medication is corticosteroids. Such medications restrain the immune system, thusmanaging inflammation.
Cortisone (Cortone), methylprednisolone (DepoMedrol, SoluMedrol), betamethasone (Celestone Soluspan),prednisolone (Delta-Cortef), triamcinolone (Aristocort), dexamethasone (Decadron), plus prednisone (Deltasone &Orasone), are some examples of corticosteroids.
Even though corticosteroids can be successful in treating RA, they are known to trigger negative side effectswhen taken in extended periods of time. Some of these side effects include glaucoma, cataracts, easy bruising,thinning bones, diabetes, and excessive weight gain.
Because of their potential to develop adverse side effects, such medications are often only used as a momentarysolution to manage sudden RA attacks. On the plus side, just 1 injection of the drug will suppress inflammation ofthe joint for prolonged periods. Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs, a.k.a. DMARDs
DMARDs pertain to a classification of medications that act to suppress the immune system from damaging thejoints, ultimately obstructing further progression of joint damage. In RA treatment, such medications arecommonly taken on top of other medications for more effective results.
RA causes permanent joint damage, which manifests at the onset. It is because of this that most doctors wouldadvise DMARD therapy immediately after a diagnosis is made. You are most responsive to DMARDs during theearly stages of RA. The earlier the drug is used, the more effective it is for the individual.
Examples of DMARDs are methotrexate (Rheumatrex), cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral), hydroxychloroquine(Plaquenil), gold salts (Myochrysine, Solganal, Aurolate, Ridaura), azathioprine (Imuran), cyclophosphamide,penicillamine (Cuprimine), minocycline, sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), and leflunomide (Arava).
While a number of DMARD products have produced positive results in treating rheumatoid arthritis, the risks fornegative side effects is alarming. Using DMARDs for a long time can set off liver and bone marrow toxicity,propensity for infections, allergic reactions, and autoimmunity.
Of the DMARD examples mentioned above, hydroxychloroquine has the lowest potential for causing bone marrow& liver toxicity, and is thus believed to be 1 of the safest DMARD types to use. However, hydroxychloroquine isnot a powerful drug by itself, and is not effective enough on its own to control rheumatoid arthritis.
Conversely, methotrexate is deemed to be one of the most powerful DMARDs to use in RA treatment due to anumber of reasons. It has been reported to effectively fight RA without causing bone marrow and liver toxicity asin the majority of DMARDs. Moreover, it works effectively and safely when used alongside biological agents,which are another type of RA drugs discussed below. Thus, this type of medication is commonly recommendedtogether with some biological agents if methotrexate does not adequately treat RA on its own. However, keep inmind that although methotrexate is not as risky as other DMARDs, it still may likely obstruct the bone marrow orset off hepatitis. In these cases, getting regular blood tests are recommended to monitor the individualï¿½scondition, and to cease treatment at the first hints of trouble. Biological Agents
Biological agents or biological drugs work to alleviate inflammation through various ways.
One way through which biological drugs work is by blocking TNFs (tumor necrosis factors). Infliximab (Remicade),etanercept (Enbrel), and adalimumab (Humira) are common TNF blockers.
Another example of how biological agents manage inflammation is by eradicating B cells. The Rituxan (Rituximab)drug, in particular, merges itself to B cells, thus destroying them.
Other drugs that reduce inflammation through their own distinctive ways are:
- tocilizumab (RoActemra & Actemra), functions by blocking interleukin 6 or IL-6
- anakinra (Kineret), blocks IL-1/interleukin 1
- abatacept (i.e. Orencia), which inhibits T-cells
Bear in mind that every biological drug has its own risks for severe side effects. The risks for side effects must beconsidered when recommending it to an individual. Salicylates
Salicylates serve to reduce the bodyï¿½s production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins generate the inflammationand pain of arthritis. In recent years, these drugs have been widely replaced with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatorydrugs, mostly given the fact that the former can cause negative side effects, such as potential damage to thekidney. Pain Relief Medications
Finally, various pain relief drugs can likewise be taken in treating rheumatoid arthritis. Some pain reliefmedications include tramadol (Ultram) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Even though pain relief drugs neither decrease inflammation nor delay joint damage progression, these drugsallow the individual to feel more comfortable and ultimately function better in his/her daily life. For this reasonalone, pain relief medications are absolutely worth considering. Surgery as a Last Resort
If all the medications discussed previously still prove ineffective, a physician may probably recommend surgery. Some surgeries meant to treat RA are tendon repair, synovectomy (i.e. joint lining removal), and arthroplasty (i.e. joint replacement surgery), in which the damaged parts of the joint are replaced with prosthetics.
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