A lot of people with rheumatoid arthritis have struggled to find answers and solutions for their symptoms. You might have tried multiple medications and have experienced side effects you simply can’t deal with. Are you having a problem finding the proper treatment for your condition? Do you want to learn more about the medical treatment options available to relieve your symptoms?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a type of arthritis in which the immune system attacks the lining of the joints. If left untreated, RA can cause deformity and even loss of function. There are many types of medications that help manage the pain and inflammation associated with RA, and the treatment varies depending on the symptoms, severity, and cause.
In this article, we will review the most common RA treatments available, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
Pharmacologic therapy means medical therapy based on synthetic drugs. They are very important in rheumatoid arthritis to reduce joint damage, minimize symptoms, reduce inflammation, and prevent complications. They include analgesics, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and DMARDs.
Out of too many treatments available for rheumatoid arthritis, biologic agents (DMARDs) are probably the most important. Patients treated with these drugs typically improve their condition faster than those who do not take them. In a recent study, more than 50% of patients who received DMARDs experienced a significant improvement in their symptoms, and the most effective drugs were rituximab and etanercept.
Still, not all DMARDs are considered biological agents. For example, we have methotrexate and sulfasalazine, which are considered disease-modifying agents but are nonbiologic DMARDs. They will likely be tried first, and many patients have excellent results.
The American College of Rheumatology also recommends using biologic agents for patients who fail to respond to nonbiologic DMARDs or who have a contraindication to them. Biological agents are usually classified into tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi), which target TNF-α, and the interleukin six receptor blocker tocilizumab. In addition, abatacept and tofacitinib have recently been used to treat RA.
It may take a long while before you reach the right treatment for you, and it requires patience and perseverance on your side. The process of selecting the proper treatment for you can sometimes be frustrating, but be sure to talk about it with your doctor and always share insights about what you expect and what symptoms you’re experiencing after medical treatment starts.
Besides DMARD treatment, you will probably need to use corticosteroids and NSAID therapy. They are both anti-inflammatory drugs and are used to reduce swelling and inflammatory damage to your joints. They are both available in oral form, but they can also be administered intravenously or directly on the affected articulation in the case of corticosteroids.
Since we’re talking about a chronic joint pain condition, it is essential to keep in mind the side effects of therapy, especially if you’re planning to use NSAID therapy. Thus, be sure to ask your doctor what to expect and what alarm signs and symptoms you need to remember during this period.