There are many different types of medication available to treat arthritis. The following list describes the benefits and side effects of different types of medication available.
- Acetaminophen can relieve mild pain. In lower doses, it is available without a prescription. Higher doses combined with codeine require a prescription but provide stronger pain relief.
- NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)—which include ASA, ibuprofen, and naproxen—are available in both over-the-counter and prescription strengths. In addition to reducing pain, they relieve joint swelling and stiffness.
- Topical pain relievers are applied to the skin and provide quick relief. They are most effective for people who have pain in only a few joints.
- Narcotics provide strong pain relief, but they can cause significant side effects.
- Corticosteroids (sometimes just called “steroids”) are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs. Used short-term, they rapidly ease swelling, inflammation, and pain; however, when taken long-term, they can increase a person’s risk of infection, increase blood sugar levels, and cause bone thinning.
- DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) are often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Not only do they relieve pain, they can help prevent further joint damage as well.
- Biologics (also known as biological response modifiers) are generally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis when DMARDs don’t provide relief. They can slow the progression of the disease in just a few weeks, but they may cause flare-ups of other chronic diseases.
Your Sobeys Pharmacist will be happy to answer any questions you have about arthritis treatments.