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Arthritis Medications

Posted Feb 04 2010 12:06am

The Arthritis Foundation names over a hundred different diseasesall causing the same two common symptoms - pain and swelling in the joints and surrounding connective tissue.

Collectively known as “arthritis,” such diseases are known to affect an estimated 40 million people in America. But a recent studythe latest comprehensive statistical survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raises the notch even higher with an estimate of 70 million people in the United States who report arthritis or chronic joint symptoms.

Fortunately for these peoplethey are not without arthritis medications to help them cope with the disease. Just as there are over a hundred different types of arthritis so are there over a hundred different kinds of arthritis medications. All of them treat arthritis and related conditions in a specific way - treat the painhalt disease progressionreduce inflammationetc.

The responseside effectsand adverse reactions to these arthritis medications vary from individual patient to another. That is why it is important for the patient to be knowledgeable about arthritis medications from determining what their options are to making informed decisions with the help of their doctors.

Below are profiles of arthritis medications in common usage today:


NSAIDs are Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs that are commonly prescribed as arthritis medications for patients suffering joint pains and rheumatic conditions. Specificallythese arthritis medications work as analgesics (or pain killing)anti inflammatoryand antipyretic or fever reducing.

The drugs’ main target is cyclooxygenasethe enzyme that catalyzes arachidonic acid to prostaglandins and leukotrienes. When the membrane phospholipids of our cells are exposed to inflammatory stimulithey release arachidonic acid which is then catalyzed by cyclooxygenase into prostaglandins. This creates the biological response of inflammation.

By interfering with the prostaglandin production and inhibiting the release of cycooxygenaseNSAIDs can prevent inflammatory responsea common symptom of arthritis.


Unlike NSAIDsBRMs or Biologic Response Modifiers are arthritis medications that stimulatenot inhibitthe ability of the immune system to fight arthritis and rheumatic diseases. These arthritis medications are based on compounds that are manufactured by the body’s living cellssuch as monoclonal antibodiesinterferoninterleukin-2and various types of colony-stimulating factors.

BRMs are slower acting compared to NSAIDs but if applied properlythey could be effective in halting disease progression.


Otherwise known as Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic DrugsDMARDs are actually immunosuppressants - that isthey suppress the response of a defective immune system as is the case of patients suffering from rheumatic arthritis. They are used as second line arthritis medications specifically for rheumatic arthritisone of the common forms of arthritis if NSAIDs and aspirin fail.

Although these arthritis medications have been used to decrease inflammationthey are not categorized under anti inflammatory drugs. They do not affect prostaglandin productionunlike NSAIDshoweverthey do relieve pain and inflammation by “modifying” the immune system in some way. As suchthese arthritis medications thus help in slowing the disease process though they seldom lead to a complete remission.

There areof courseseveral more arthritis medications that will help arthritis patients cope with their condition. The ones featured above are the most common and easily recognizable out of the hundreds out there.

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