Drug Health Review Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options Top 4 Drug Types Pros And Cons

Drug Health Review Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options Top 4 Drug Types Pros And Cons

There are several options available for sufferers of Rheumatoid Arthritis pain. This article “Drug Health Review Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options Top 4 Drug Types Pros And Cons” looks at the top 4 drug types and the pros and cons of each. You should seek the advice of your physician before using any treatment options. There are additional resource links at the end of this article.

Drug Health Review Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options Top 4 Drug Types Pros And Cons
Drug Health Review Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options Top 4 Drug Types Pros And Cons

Suffering from the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis is not something that is an automatic life sentence as we age. There are Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment options available to people with this disease. There are 4 drug types of Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs along with the pros and cons of each.

The options for Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment drugs is growing as the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis is also growing. Some Rheumatoid Arthritis drugs fight the inflammation and relieve the pain, while other Rheumatoid Arthritis drugs will help slow the progression of the disease. All Rheumatoid Arthritis drugs are going to have some adverse side effects that you need to be aware of.

While having rheumatoid arthritis is not enjoyable for anyone there is some comfort in knowing that Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options in the form of prescription medications is growing. There are Rheumatoid Arthritis medications that will help to manage the pain of inflammation, along with the complications associated with the disease known as RA or rheumatoid arthritis. It is also possible to slow the progression of Rheumatoid Arthritis with the use of prescription drugs.

The traditional approach to treating Rheumatoid Arthritis is through the use of a combination of two or three types of drugs. The most commonly use drug types are DMARDs, also known as disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, and then two other types of drugs, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and then corticosteroids.

Recently the treatment guidelines have been updated by the American College of Rheumatology, and were published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research. These guidelines state that for the early and aggressive treatment to be used is the best approach to help prevent the occurrence of irreversible joint damage along with with helping to maintain an acceptable quality of life for people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Physicians now have more options in terms of medicines available to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Drug Health Review Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options Top 4 Drug Types Pros And Cons: Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications: DMARDs

Although there is still no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, the new guidelines say that targeting low disease activity and trying to get all disease into remission should be the goal of RA treatment. That’s why they now say that everyone with RA should be started on at least one DMARD at the beginning of treatment and that people with more disease activity and features of poor prognosis should be started on or considered for two or more DMARDS.

The guidelines also say that if you are started on one DMARD and you are not doing well after three months, you should have another DMARD added. Commonly used DMARDs include methotrexate (Rheumatrex and Trexall), hydroxychloroquine sulfate (Plaquenil), leflunomide (Arava), and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine).

Pros: DMARDs not only help control symptoms, they can also minimize joint damage and stave off future complications.
Cons: Doctors must monitor your blood work and symptoms closely while you’re taking DMARDs. Benefits of DMARDs may take weeks or months to take effect. Side effects of methotrexate include liver damage, lung damage, and a decreased ability to fight off infections. Side effects of hydroxychloroquine include eye damage. Sulfasalazine may cause allergic reaction if you are sensitive to sulfa drugs, and leflunomide has been associated with birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Because of an increased risk for infection while taking a DMARD, the new guidelines suggest getting vaccinated for pneumocccus, influenza, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus (HPV), and herpes zoster (shingles) before starting treatment. If you are already on a DMARD, talk to your doctor about what vaccines you may need.

Drug Health Review Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options Top 4 Drug Types Pros And Cons: Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications: Biologics

These newer drugs turn down your body’s immune response. They can reduce joint pain and swelling as well as reduce long-term damage. The two basic types are called anti-tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (anti-TNF) drugs and non-TNF drugs.

Anti-TNF medications work by blocking the effects of TNF — a protein that encourages inflammation and revs up the immune system — thereby decreasing the joint inflammation that is a hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis.

The new guidelines recommend starting an anti-TNF drug with or without methotrexate if you have high disease activity and poor prognostic features in early rheumatoid arthritis. If you have been started on DMARD therapy and you have moderate to high disease activity after three months, your doctor may add or switch to an anti-TNF.

If you are taking an anti-TNF already and you are not doing well after three months, your doctor may switch to another anti-TNF or to a non-TNF biologic. Anti-TNF drugs include etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), and adalimumab (Humira). Non-TNF biologics include abatacept (Orencia), rituximab (Rituxan), and tocilizumab (Actemra).

Pros: Biologic medications are effective in controlling symptoms and preventing complications of rheumatoid arthritis. These medications act quickly, and you may start to feel the effects after first or second treatment.
Cons: They can cause several potentially life-threatening side effects. Because these drugs interfere with the immune system, they increase your risk for infection, including tuberculosis. Additionally, some of these medications have been linked to the development of lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells. Biologics are given by injection, and one of the most common side effects is burning, itching, and swelling at the site of the injection. Because biologics turn down your immune system, the new guidelines recommend that if you take a biologic, you should be screened for tuberculosis. You should not take a biologic if you have untreated chronic hepatitis B, have had a cancer tumor in the past five years, or you have severe heart failure. Vaccination recommendations for biologics are similar to those for DMARDs, so you should talk to your doctor about them.

Drug Health Review Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options Top 4 Drug Types Pros And Cons: Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications: Corticosteroids

Corticosteroid drugs help fight inflammation and depress your immune response. Steroid drugs include prednisone and methylprednisolone (Medrol). Steroids are used to control rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, but they do not alter the course of the disease in the same way that DMARDs or biologics do.

Pros: They can be given by mouth, intravenously, or be injected directly into a joint. Because steroids act quickly, they can be used while waiting for other drugs like DMARDs to take effect. They are also useful for a sudden flare of symptoms.
Cons: Steroid use is limited because they can lead to a host of side effects, including weight gain, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, osteoporosis, and mood disturbances.

Drug Health Review Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options Top 4 Drug Types Pros And Cons: Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications: NSAIDs

This class of drugs includes over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve), as well as prescription-strength drugs (Naprelan).

Pros: NSAIDs reduce joint inflammation and offset symptoms.
Cons: They have no effect on the eventual progression of the disease, can irritate the lining of the stomach, and can damage the kidneys when used at high doses for extended periods.

The new guidelines for rheumatoid arthritis medications are the best recommendations available, according to the American College of Rheumatology. You will need to work closely with your doctor to find the best treatment or treatment combination for you. The benefits of treatment outweigh the side effects most of the time, but it is good to know what to look for.

New medications are becoming available to treat rheumatoid arthritis either alone or in combinations. For now, the best bet for preventing long-term disability from rheumatoid arthritis is to target low disease activity early and try to get all disease activity into remission as soon as possible.

 

Disclaimer

Links To Resources:

WebMD: RA Treatment Options

Arthritis.org: Rheumatoid Arthritis

 

 

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