Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the right medicine for your arthritis. Learn about your medicines, including how to take them and possible side effects.
Analgesics (simple pain relievers)
Pain relievers are often the first medicine your doctor will recommend to help with pain. Some pain relievers are available without a prescription, while others must be prescribed by a doctor.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs reduce inflammation, joint swelling and stiffness. They are often used to treat inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Some NSAIDs are available without a prescription, while others must be prescribed by a doctor.
Opioids are medicines taken to help reduce pain. They work on the central nervous system to slow down nerve signals between the brain and the body. This can reduce feelings of pain, but it can also produce adverse effects, ranging from constipation to dangerous slowing down of a person’s breathing.
Corticosteroids are used to treat inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. They can also be used to treat a single inflamed joint.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
DMARDs are used to treat inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
Many DMARDs act on the immune system to cause ‘immunosuppression’. This reduces the activity of the immune system which is attacking and damaging healthy joints. This can not only relieve symptoms but also reduce the risk of long-term damage to your joints.
Biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs)
Biologic medications are a group of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) which may prevent the development of joint damage. DMARDs, including biologics, are different to medicines that simply block the pain or other symptoms you’re feeling. They work by blocking specific substances in the immune system.
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