Arthritis is a painful condition of the joints that causes swelling and inflammation. It can occur at any time of a person’s life, no matter the gender. As of now, medical science has yet to find a cure to arthritis, but there are several treatment methods available to alleviate the symptoms, the most common of which is pain.
Below are some arthritis medications that have been approved for consumer use:
NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs)
NSAIDs are the most common arthritis medications, available in most drugstore shelves, supermarket, and even discount or convenient stores. As an over the counter drug, you do not need a physician’s prescription to start using this arthritis medication.
The main purpose of the drug is to reduce pain – from muscles aches and headaches to minor joint pains and fever, all of which are common symptoms of arthritis. In addition to pain reduction, NSAID can also help alleviate joint inflammation.
NSAIDs are available in three basic categories: traditional NSAIDs, COX-2 inhibitors, and salicylates.
Analgesics are like NSAIDs in that they can provide relief for pain. However, that is all that this arthritis medication can do. It cannot reduce inflammation or swelling of the joints. Nevertheless, analgesics are most helpful if, for some reason, the patient cannot take NSAIDs (like if he is allergic to it or suffers stomach problems if he takes that arthritis medication) to help relieve pain.
Biologic Response Modifiers
Most arthritis medications are symptom-specified. That is, they commonly target only the signs and symptoms of arthritis, such as joint pains and inflammation, not the disease itself. However, there is a class of arthritis medications that aim at halting disease progression. They are called biologic response modifiers or BRMs. This class of arthritis medication works in different ways, although all of them have something to do with a protein called cytokines. By inhibiting the production of cytokines, BRMs can effectively stop inflammation.
Corticosteroids, more commonly known as steroids, make up some of the oldest and most effective arthritis medication. It is also one of the fastest working. Joints, eyes, and internal organs that have been damaged due to arthritic inflammation can be spared with the application of steroids. Not only that, but there have been many cases where steroids saved lives.
However, this arthritis medication needs to be used properly and sparingly. Because while steroids have the potential to help arthritic patients, they also have the potential to do great harm by causing bones to become brittle, cataracts to occur, and blood sugar levels to elevate.
DMARDs (Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drugs
This is another arthritis medication that targets arthritis as a disease and not just its symptoms. In this aspect, DMARDs are similar to BRMs, which also aims to halt progression of the disease. One key difference is that DMARDs, while effective, work slow and produce gradual results. Some types of this drug, like hydroxychloroquine for instance, may take three or four months before you notice any results. This gives you all the more reason to start it early.
This type of arthritis medication is commonly used for rheumatoid arthritis, as what its name suggests. However, there have been cases where this DMARDs were also used to treat juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spndylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and lupus.