Home > Rheumatoid Arthritis: Finding the Right Medicine for You
When you learn that you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), starting treatment right away helps preserve your joints. Medicine improves RA pain, joint swelling, and disability.
There are many RA medicines that can help control the disease. Most are called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, or DMARDs. Different DMARDs work on different levels of the immune system. They all slow or stop inflammation over the long-term. This is the key to controlling RA.
Like many people with RA, you may have to keep trying before you find which DMARD, or mix of medicines, controls your RA. If a medicine makes you feel sick or doesn't work for you after a few months, your doctor will change your medicine.
RA experts have created guidelines for what types of DMARD to try and when. Guidelines help your doctor and you decide how to treat your RA. Generally, the experts say it is best to save biologic medicine for severe RA or when nothing else has worked.
NSAID and corticosteroid medicine. Along with a DMARD, you may also start treatment with a corticosteroid or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), or both. These medicines can be used as a "bridge" to help control symptoms while you wait to see if a DMARD works for you. They can also help later on when you need extra symptom control.
NSAIDs can damage your kidneys and stomach, and corticosteroid medicines can be hard on your body. So they aren't usually used for a long time like DMARDs are. If you use an NSAID, be sure your doctor knows you're taking it.
Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
Your doctor is the expert about RA medicines. You are the expert about how your body feels and what you prefer. Together, you are a decision-making team. So work with your doctor and be sure you know the answers to these questions before you try a new treatment:
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerNancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Current as ofOctober 31, 2016
Current as of:
October 31, 2016
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
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