Learn about different types of medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis
While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), there are treatments that can help relieve the joint pain, stiffness, and swelling caused by the condition. Some of the typical treatment options your doctor may consider are described below. It’s important to talk with your rheumatologist to determine which treatment option is right for you.
Often prescribed by doctors when RA first starts, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help reduce pain, stiffness, and swelling. However, they don’t stop further joint damage. Many NSAIDs, like ibuprofen (such as Motrin®* and Advil®*) and naproxen (such as Aleve®*) are available at drug stores without a prescription. Others, like Celebrex®*, require a prescription. Over time, many people find that NSAIDs may not be enough to provide the symptom relief they require.
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Your doctor may have prescribed a medicine called a DMARD (disease-modifying antirheumatic drug) to help treat your RA. Methotrexate is a commonly prescribed DMARD for the treatment of RA. While many people are helped by methotrexate, for others, it isn’t enough. Your doctor may combine methotrexate with other medications to help relieve your symptoms and help treat your RA.
Biologics are medications that help treat moderate to severe RA by reducing the inflammation or swelling caused by the disease. A biologic may be appropriate for you if your symptoms are getting worse while taking a DMARD, such as methotrexate.
Anti-TNFs (tumor necrosis factor) are a type of biologic that works by blocking the action of TNF-alpha, a protein made by your body’s immune system. In certain autoimmune diseases, such as RA, there is too much TNF-alpha. Too much TNF-alpha can cause the immune system to attack parts of the body. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. Over time, RA can damage joints.
When methotrexate is combined with some anti-TNF biologic treatments, such as SIMPONI ARIA®, the 2 medications working together:
- can be helpful in the treatment of symptoms of moderate to severe RA
- may help stop further joint damage
It's important to know that blocking too much TNF-alpha can lessen your body's ability to fight infections.