Battling Rheumatoid Arthritis: What are your medication options?
There are many RA medications out there. Some are pills, others are injections, some are prescribed, others are available over the counter. With so many options, how do you determine which one of the RA medications is right for you?
Of course the first place to start is with an open and honest conversation with your Rheumatologist. Your Rheumatologist can help you weigh the pros and cons of many RA medications (and non medication treatment options).
Goals of RA Medications
The goal of rheumatoid arthritis medication treatment is to achieve the lowest possible level of arthritis disease activity(remission, ideally) minimizing joint damage, and improving quality of life.
Types of RA Medications
NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are available over-the-counter and by prescription. They are used to help ease arthritis pain and inflammation. NSAIDS are used primarily to ease the symptoms of RA; not to slow or stop the course of the disease. Examples: ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.
Corticosteroids May be used to get potentially damaging inflammation under control, while waiting for other treatments to take effect. Because of the risk of side effects with these drugs, doctors prefer to use them for as short a time as possible and in doses as low as possible. Example: Prednisone.
DMARDs or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, are drugs that work to modify the course of the disease. These medicines can be taken by mouth, be self-injected, or given as an infusion in a doctor’s office. Example: Plaquenil (hydroxycholorquine)
Biologics are a subset of DMARDs. They target specific steps in the inflammatory process, therefore they don’t wipe out the entire immune response as some other RA treatments do. A biologic can slow, modify or stop the disease – even when other treatments haven’t worked.
JAK inhibitors block the Janus kinase, or JAK, pathways, which are involved in the body’s immune response. These are a newer subset of DMARDs.
Most Common RA Medications
- Prednisone: A steroid used not only for RA, but many other conditions such as lupus, Crohn’s, headaches, and even itching
- Mobic / Meloxicam: A pain relieving (NSAID) pill.
- Celebrex: Is also a pain relieving (NSAID) pill.
- Aleve / Naproxen: Is a pain relieving (NSAID) that is available over that counter. It is commonly used to treat fevers as well as aches and pains
- Remicade: Is an Immunosuppressant that is taken as an injection. It is also used to treat other autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s.
- Plaquenil: Or generically as Hydroxychloroquine, is a Immunosuppressant and anti-parasite that is taken as a pill. It is also used to treat and prevent malaria
- Rituxan: is an injection that is used in arthritis and cancer.
- Enbrel: or Etanercept is an injection that is used in arthritis
- Humira: is an injection that is used in arthritis and IBD.
- Arava: or generically as Leflunomide is Immunosuppressant that is taken as a pill for rheumatoid arthritis in adults.
- Orencia: or Abatacept is an injection used to treat rheumatoid arthritis
- Methotrexate: is a Chemotherapy and immunosuppressant drug that is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis as well as many types of cancer.
Telemedicine, Technology, & Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Telemedicine has evolved over the years into a dependable, reliable service in many areas of healthcare management. Studies and experts suggest benefits for both patients and clinicians. What Is Telem…
Traveling with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Summer is approaching. Along with hot temperatures, summer often brings opportunities to travel. Continue to learn how to be prepared while traveling. Preparation Is Key Planning is key when traveling…
Osteoporosis, Brittle Bones, & Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
From medications to lifestyle factors, people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) should be aware of the factors that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. The connection between RA and osteoporosi…
Heart Inflammation, Atherosclerosis, & Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
The science is becoming clearer that #RAWarriors are more susceptible to heart disease—specifically atherosclerosis. Learn more about RA heart inflammation and how to decrease the risk for heart disea…
Splints, Orthoses, & Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
There are many reasons why #RAWarriors might consider the use of splints or orthotics as part of their treatment plan again rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Splints—or orthoses—make daily activities more ma…
Anemia, Iron Deficiency, & Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
#RAWarriors are at risk of developing two types of anemia—anemia of a chronic disease or iron deficiency anemia. There are actually seven different types of anemia. The two that are the most commonly …
Heart Health, Stress, Anxiety, & Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can have a negative impact on the heart and heart health Additionally, common comorbid conditions like cytomegalovirus may also pose a threat. Continue read…
Bone Health and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Bone Health: Is Bone Loss a Direct Cause of RA? Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become less dense and more likely to fracture. People with this disease conditio…
Depression, Mental Health, & Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Battling rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a challenge. Mental health problems, including depression, can be a serious part of that battle. What does anxiety feel like? According to the American Psychologi…
Eye Health, Ocular Challenges, & RA
Rheumatoid arthritis primarily affects the joints and surrounding tissue. But, it is also important to monitor other body parts, including eye health. The most common eye complication of RA is dryness…
Alcohol: Additional Risks & Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Some RA drugs can be taxing on the liver, the organ in the body that processes alcohol. #RAWarriors need to pay special attention to ensure organ health. Occasionally, articles surface about purporte…
Pregnancy & Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
A pregnancy with rheumatoid arthritis presents few additional risks. The major health complication to be aware of is high blood pressure. Pregnancy does not often exacerbate symptoms of women with RA.…