Overview Of The Best Arthritis Medications

Arthritis is a condition that produces joint pain and swelling. It can limit a person's range of motion, and symptoms tend to worsen with age. There are quite a few different types of arthritis out there. However, the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The former is linked to aging and occurs when cartilage wears down over time. The latter form is a chronic autoimmune condition. It is the result of an individual's immune system mistakenly attacking the lining of their joints.

Thankfully, there are many options for arthritis treatment. Many patients benefit from weight loss for arthritis. Other common natural remedies for arthritis include warm and cool compresses as well as exercise. Of course, many individuals will need to take medication for arthritis. Medications may provide arthritis pain relief and help them handle other symptoms. However, patients should review their options first so that they can choose the best arthritis medication for their needs.

Naproxen 

Naproxen, a strong nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, is often used to treat arthritis. It helps reduce hormones that trigger inflammation and pain, thus lessening pain in the joints. Many patients take it as an over-the-counter pill or liquid gel tablet. However, there are stronger versions available with a prescription. Patients should discuss their use of this medication with their doctor first. Points of concern include the presence of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, or a history of stomach ulcers. Patients need to discuss their medical history so that their doctor can ensure that naproxen is safe for their overall health. Individuals who take a daily dose of acetylsalicylic acid to prevent heart attacks or strokes should also check with a doctor before using naproxen. 

Common side effects include ringing in the ears, headaches, itching, bruising, and indigestion. Patients may also notice dizziness, stomach pain, or nausea. Since this medicine increases the risk of stomach bleeding, patients should avoid alcohol while using it. Naproxen interacts with many medications. One example is different antidepressants. Taking these medicines together could cause patients to bruise or bleed more easily. Naproxen also interacts with diuretics, warfarin, heart and blood pressure medicines, oral diabetes medicines, and some anticonvulsants. 

Prednisone 

Prednisone is a common corticosteroid and immunosuppressant that blocks the release of certain substances that trigger inflammation. It is a common medication prescribed for arthritis. However, before prescribing it, doctors need to know if the patient has diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, low potassium, depression, glaucoma, or osteoporosis. Patients should also let their doctor know if they have ever had tuberculosis or malaria. They should inform the doctor about any recent infections as well. As an immunosuppressant, prednisone can make it easier to get infections. It can also worsen the symptoms of existing infections. 

Individuals who use prednisone could develop insomnia or mood changes. Weight gain often occurs as well. Patients have also reported nausea, bloating, stomach pain, acne, and thinning skin. During treatment with this medication, patients should not receive live vaccines. They should avoid alcohol consumption as well. Prednisone interacts with antifungals and some antibiotics. It also interacts with birth control pills, diuretics, anticonvulsants, and medications used to treat hepatitis C. 

Diclofenac 

Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It is often used to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Some patients take it orally, though it is also available as an over-the-counter topical ointment. However, diclofenac may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, especially in cardiovascular disease patients. In addition, it may cause potentially fatal stomach bleeding that could occur without warning. Older adults and individuals who take high doses of diclofenac are at an increased risk for this complication. Patients with asthma, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, heart disease, or kidney disease should check with a doctor before use. 

This medication can increase blood pressure. In some cases, it may cause abnormal blood test results. Other side effects include swelling and pain in the hands and feet, indigestion, headaches, and diarrhea. Patients should let their doctor know immediately if they develop a skin rash. Due to an increased risk of bleeding, individuals who take antidepressants should check with their doctor before taking diclofenac. The drug also interacts with diuretics and blood thinners. 

Hydroxychloroquine 

Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial medicine sometimes used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. However, it carries higher risks than other medications. When patients take it at high doses or for long periods, it can permanently damage their retina. This is more likely to happen in individuals who have kidney disease or pre-existing eye conditions. Patients who take tamoxifen are also at an increased risk. This drug can cause heart problems as well, particularly if individuals take it with azithromycin. Before using this medicine, patients should tell their doctor if they have heart conditions, diabetes, vision problems, psoriasis, or liver disease. 

Hydroxychloroquine is usually taken daily for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Most doctors recommend that patients take it with food or milk. The most commonly reported side effects of this medicine include hair loss, nausea, weight loss, vomiting, dizziness, nervousness, stomach pain, and itchy skin. Patients should let their doctors know immediately if they experience jaundice, ringing in the ears, mood changes, or low blood sugar on this medication. Finally, this medication has many potential side effects. Specifically, medications that it interacts with include cimetidine, diabetes medicines, anticonvulsants, and heart rhythm drugs. 

Rituximab 

Rituximab is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and certain types of cancer. It is administered as an intravenous infusion. However, doctors must first ensure that this medication is safe for their patient. Thus, they will want to know if their patient has ever had lung, liver, or kidney disease. Patients should also inform their doctor if they have had hepatitis, cardiovascular disease, angina, chickenpox, herpes, shingles, or West Nile virus. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take this medicine. Patients must have blood tests before starting treatment. In addition, frequent follow-up tests are necessary for proper monitoring. Patients should not receive live vaccines when they are taking this medication. 

Rituximab can cause depression, muscle spasms, painful urination, low white blood cell counts, and swelling of the hands or feet. Patients should alert their doctor right away if they experience certain side effects. Side effects that merit this include vomiting, severe stomach pain, mouth sores, painful skin, chest pain, and signs of infection. These may occur several months after the patient has received rituximab. They can also happen after treatment ends.