Arthritis Pain Medications
Currently, there are more than 100 different medications used to treat the pain, stiffness, and inflammation of arthritis. This stems from the fact that there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Additionally, each individual who has arthritis may or may not respond to treatment. Oftentimes, it can take several years to find the right combination of arthritis pain medications.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most commonly prescribed arthritis pain medications. They are used primarily to treat inflammation, mild to moderate pain, and fever. There are three types of NSAIDS: salicylates, nonacetylated salsalate, and choline magnesium trisalicylate or magnesium salicylate.
The way NSAIDs work is by blocking the activity of the enzyme, cyclooxygenase, also known as COX. There are two forms of the COX enzyme, known as COX-1 and COX-2. Both COX enzymes produce prostaglandins, which are chemicals produced by the body's cells. Their function is to promote inflammation, pain and fever. Additionally, prostaglandins support the function of platelets required for the clotting of blood; and they protect the stomach lining against acidity.
COX-1 is used by the body to maintain healthy tissue. COX-2 is involved in controlling inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have an affect on both forms of COX because they block the COX enzymes and reduce prostaglandins.
The downside of NSAIDS is that they reduce the prostaglandins, which protects the stomach lining, and the body's blood clotting ability. This can lead to stomach ulcers and promote bleeding.
Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) fall into a category known as "slow-acting anti-rheumatic drugs" because they have a tendency to take weeks or months to work.
These drugs are oftentimes prescribed if NSAIDs are ineffective in the treatment of arthritis..Extensive research has been conducted on DMARDs and has shown them to be particularly effective in the treatment of Rheumatoid, Psoriatic, and Ankylosing Spondylitis. It is currently unknown exactly how DMARDs work in the treatment of arthritis. However, scientists do know that DMARDs slow the disease process by modifying the immune system in some way.
Common side effects of DMARDs include high blood pressure, swelling, kidney damage, nausea, diarrhea, and heartburn. A few of the medications in this group require careful monitoring such as monthly blood and liver testing.
Corticosteroids or glucocorticoids, often referred to as "steroids", are exceptionally potent drugs used to quickly reduce swelling and inflammation. Corticosteroids are closely related to cortisol; a hormone produced in the cortex of the adrenal glands.
Typically, steroids are prescribed as arthritis pain medication to individuals who suffer from diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Polymyalgia Rheumatica, or Vasculitis.
Long-term use or high doses of steroids can increase the potential for serious side effects. Physicians generally prescribe steroids on a short-term basis to help those suffering from extensive pain and inflammation.
There are multiple side effects to using steroids. Before using steroids as arthritis pain medication, be certain to conduct research via the Internet, through your local library, or by consulting with your physician. To learn more, type in "side effects+Corticosteroids" at your favorite search engine.