In the past, diseases that came under the category of rheumatology were difficult to be cured permanently. This is especially true when it comes to the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis because it is an autoimmune disease, i.e., the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues of the body. Nowadays, different types of drugs can help with managing the symptoms of RA like pain, inflammation, as well as slow down the progression of the disease. Some of these medicines are corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and DMARDS. The purpose of this article is to discuss the pros and cons of some RA drugs.
This class of drugs includes both OTC medications and prescription-strength drugs. Aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen are some of the commonly used over-the-counter medications; naproxen sodium is a prescription NSAID. Studies are being conducted to identify the effects of NSAIDs like ibuprofen, celecoxib, and naproxen, and their safety. They reduce joint inflammation, fever, and pain due to RA.
Research has shown that NSAIDs used for rheumatism treatment can produce complications like gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal issues. Also, among these medicines, the rate of overall mortality was higher for naproxen. Some of the main drawbacks of these medications are the following:
- They do not affect the overall progress of RA.
- When they are used in high doses over an extended time, they can damage the kidneys and irritate the lining of the stomach.
- In 2015 the FDA had issued a warning that NSAIDs can increase the risk for stroke and heart attacks.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are an important class of drugs used in rheumatism treatment. Their main advantage is that they minimize joint damage and help with controlling the symptoms. They have been used by rheumatologists for many years.
However, DMARDs like Trexall produce some side effects, and this is discussed in detail below. For example, the side effects of methotrexate are lung damage, liver damage, and reduced immunity. Also, the side effect of hydroxychloroquine is that it may cause eye damage. Finally, sulfasalazine may produce an allergic reaction if you are sensitive to sulfa drugs.
Biologics are targeted DMARDs, and they treat RA by turning off or reducing the immune response of your body. So, they reduce joint inflammation, pain, and long-term damage to the joints. Their main advantage is that they effectively control RA symptoms and prevent complications due to RA.
The main disadvantage of biologics is that they increase your risk for infections like tuberculosis because they interfere with the functioning of the immune system.
On a final note, the choice of drugs used for rheumatism treatment depends on the severity of your condition and how your body is responding to treatment.