Rheumatoid Arthritis Medication

Dealing with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can feel like a never-ending battle. Fortunately, many options are available to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Let's know some of the most commonly prescribed medications for RA. We will also understand how they work in the body. Whether you're newly diagnosed or have been living with RA for years, read on to discover all you need to know.

Medication Options for RA

The joints are primarily affected by the chronic inflammatory illness called rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It can result in joint injury, deformity, and disability and causes inflammation and joint pain. Fortunately, several drugs are available to treat RA and control its symptoms. All these drugs can be categorized into a range of different groups, where each of which has advantages and potential drawbacks of its own.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

A class of medications known as NSAIDs is frequently prescribed to treat RA symptoms like pain and inflammation. They function by preventing the body from producing prostaglandins, which are chemicals that induce inflammation. NSAIDs are available over- the-counter or by prescription and can be ingested or used topically. Aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen are typical NSAID examples.

NSAIDs reduce pain and inflammation immediately is one of their main advantages. They do not, however, come without drawbacks. When taken frequently or in large doses, NSAIDs can cause heart attack, stroke, gastrointestinal bleeding, and ulcers.


A class of drugs called corticosteroids treats several ailments like RA. They function by calming inflammation and inhibiting the immune system. Corticosteroids can be used topically, inject directly into the joint, or can be taken orally. Prednisone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone are some corticosteroid examples.

One of their advantages is the speed with which corticosteroids reduce inflammation and pain. They do not, however, provide a permanent cure for RA. A gain in weight, mood swings, elevated blood pressure, and an increased risk of infection are just a few of the adverse effects that corticosteroids can produce. If one uses this drug over an extended period can potentially cause osteoporosis and adrenal suppression.

Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)

By lowering the immune system and halting the progression of the disease, DMARDs are a class of drugs that are used to treat RA. The two types of DMARDs are conventional DMARDs and biological DMARDs.

Drugs like methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine are examples of conventional DMARDs. These medications can take weeks or months to start working, but they are often quite good at lowering inflammation and delaying joint deterioration. Conventional DMARDs are often ingested.

A more recent class of drugs called biologic DMARDs is made to target certain molecules involved in the immune response. Etanercept, infliximab, and adalimumab are a few biological DMARD examples. Injections or infusions are typically used to provide biologic DMARDs, which have a high potential for decreasing inflammation and delaying joint injury.

One advantage of DMARDs is their ability to delay the course of RA and avoid joint damage. Nevertheless, they may not begin to work for weeks or months, and they may also cause a number of unpleasant side effects, including nausea, diarrhoea, and a higher risk of infection. Moreover, biological DMARDs may be highly expensive.

Janus Kinase (JAK) Inhibitors

A new class of drugs called JAK inhibitors is used to treat RA. They function by preventing the activity of specific immune response-related enzymes. Orally administered JAK inhibitors have a great deal of potential for decreasing inflammation and delaying joint degeneration. The JAK inhibitors tofacitinib and baricitinib are typical examples.

JAK inhibitors can reduce inflammation and discomfort in RA patients quickly; some patients report improvement just a few days after beginning the medication. Patients who have not responded well to other drugs, such as DMARDs and biologic DMARDs, may also be candidates for JAK inhibitors.

JAK inhibitors, however, can have certain unfavourable effects, such as an elevated risk of infection, alterations in cholesterol levels, and an elevated risk of blood clots. Patients taking JAK inhibitors must be regularly watched by their medical professional for potential side effects.

Combination Therapy

A combination of drugs may sometimes be used to treat RA. For instance, a patient might be given a DMARD and a biologic DMARD or a DMARD and a JAK inhibitor. Combination therapy may be more efficient than a single medicine in lowering inflammation and avoiding joint injury. Combination therapy can cost more than taking one medicine alone and increase the likelihood of side effects.

As a result, a wide range of medications with various benefits and potential concerns are available to treat rheumatoid arthritis. We all need to work with our healthcare practitioners to determine the prescription or drug combination that is most effective for us. Patients must be informed of any potential side effects from their medications and inform their physician if they have any unusual symptoms. With the right care, many RA patients may keep their symptoms under control and lead active, fulfilling lives.

Home Treatment for RA

Let's have a look at some alternative home treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Exercise − Regular exercise can help a lot. It can reduce joint pain, increase strength, and improve flexibility. Go for low-impact exercises. For instance, walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga.

  • Heat and Cold Therapy − Applying heat or cold to the affected joints can reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Warm baths or showers, heating pads, and warm compresses can all be effective for RA. Ice packs or cold compresses can also reduce swelling and inflammation.

  • Diet and Nutrition − A healthy diet can help reduce inflammation. Add more fatty fish, nuts, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables to your diet. Also, stay hydrated to help your body fight other symptoms.

  • Rest and Relaxation − Rest and take daily breaks to aid fatigue. You can also try deep breathing, meditation, or gentle stretching to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

  • Supplements − Omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric, and ginger work like a charm on inflammation. However, you must talk to your doctor first before starting any supplement, as some can interact with medications or cause other health problems.


Luckily there are numerous options available to help manage Rheumatoid arthritis. You can try anti- inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids. Sometimes, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics can also do wonder. But before starting medication, discuss any with your doctor regarding any concerns for sure.

Updated on: 23-Mar-2023


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