RA medication and treatment options.

There are many medications currently available to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Finding an RA medication that is appropriate for you can be a complicated process. That’s why it’s important to work closely with your primary care physician or rheumatologist to develop a treatment plan that is right for you. Never alter your RA treatment or your medication schedule unless you talk with your doctor.

All medications have side effects. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of your treatment options. These medications should be used under the supervision of a health care professional. Always tell your doctor about any side effects you may be experiencing.

Click on a treatment for more information.

RA medication & treatment options
  • Analgesics
  • NSAIDs
  • DMARDs
  • Corticosteroids
  • Biologics
Used for pain relief. The most commonly used analgesic is acetaminophen and it can be found over-the-counter. In some cases of severe pain, doctors may prescribe analgesics containing an opioid such as codeine or hydrocodone.
NSAIDsnonsteroidal anti-
inflammatory drugs
Used in the treatment of RA to relieve pain and to reduce inflammation. Some are available over-the-counter, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and others must be prescribed by a doctor, such as a COX-2 inhibitor. Although they may relieve pain and inflammation, NSAIDs do not slow the progression of joint damage.
DMARDs disease-modifying
antirheumatic drugs
Reduce pain and inflammation, like NSAIDs. However, they can also slow further RA joint damage. DMARDs, such as methotrexate, are only available with a doctor’s prescription. They may take a few weeks or months to have an effect.
Often called "steroids"; used to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. They are often prescribed to relieve acute symptoms, with the goal of gradually tapering off the medication.
Used in moderate to severe RA to reduce signs and symptoms; some may help slow or prevent the progression of joint damage. Biologics work by blocking part of the immune system that contributes to the inflammation seen in RA. Biologics are often used in combination with methotrexate or other DMARDs.
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