RA Meds

NSAIDsNonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include more than a dozen different medications – some available over-the-counter, some available by prescription only – used to help ease arthritis pain and inflammation. NSAIDs include such drugs as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis KT) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), among others. If you have had or are at risk of stomach ulcers, your doctor may prescribe celecoxib (Celebrex), a type of NSAID called a COX-2 inhibitor, which is designed to be safer for the stomach.

CorticosteroidsCorticosteroid medications, including prednisone, prednisolone and methyprednisolone, are potent and quick-acting anti-inflammatory medications. They may be used in RA to get potentially damaging inflammation under control, while waiting for NSAIDs and DMARDs (below) take effect. Because of the risk of side effects with these drugs, doctors prefer to use them for as short a time as possible and in doses as low as possible.

DMARDs – An acronym for disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, DMARDs are drugs that work slowly to actually modify the course of the disease. In recent years, the most commonly used DMARD for rheumatoid arthritis is methotrexate. But there are about a dozen others that fall into this category. They include hydroxycholorquine (Plaquenil), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine, Azulfidine EN-Tabs), leflunomide (Arava) and azathioprine (Imuran).
A person diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis today is likely to be prescribed a DMARD fairly early in the course of their disease, as doctors have found that starting these drugs early on can help prevent irreparable joint damage that might occur if their use was delayed.

Biologic agents – The newest category of medications used for rheumatoid arthritis is that of the biologic agents. There are currently six such agents approved for rheumatoid arthritis: abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab (Humira), anakinra (Kineret), etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade) and rituximab (Rituxan).
Each of the biologics blocks a specific step in the inflammation process.  Humira, Enbrel and Remicade block a cytokine called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-?), and therefore often are called TNF-? inhibitors. Kineret blocks a cytokine called interleukin-1 (IL-1). Orencia blocks the activation of T cells. Rituxan blocks B cells. Because these agents target specific steps in the process, they don’t wipe out the entire immune response as some other RA treatments do, and in many people a biologic agent can slow, modify or stop the disease – even when other treatments haven’t helped much.

Description of many RA drugs appear here.

See also video "RA Treatments" on right panel ------->

The following are medications I have personally been on and can tell you my experiences with. Of course, every drug effects different people differently. I can also discus self-injecting and getting infusions.

I have been on: Ecotrin, Motrin, Naprosin, Clinerol, Feldine, Auranofin (Ridura), Depen, Penicilimine, Methotrexate, (Meth. Pen. & Depen), Voltarin, Plaquinel, Methotrexate by injection; Voltarin, Azulfadine, Mychrosine injections (gold), Aurlate (gold) 50mg/wk, Cortisone injection, Imuran, Arava, Oruvail, Prozac, Bextra, Kineret injections, Mobic, Enbrel, Humira and Prednisone as needed. On Jan 8, 2009 I started Orenica transfusions.

Kineret, Enbrel, Humira all worked for me for 2 years +/- and then they stopped working. This is not uncommon.

Over The Counter Treatments:
  • Zyflamend is a natural anti-inflammatory recommended by my rheumatologist and used by many successfully. Purchase at health food stores or online
  • Odorless Aspirin Creams work well locally for pain in hands, knees, etc.
  • Pain patches also offer local relief