If your arthritis is mild, your doctor may recommend a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It stops your body from making the chemicals that cause inflammation.
You can get NSAIDs over the counter and by prescription. The most common are aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
What’s good for your joints may be hard on other parts of your body, though. NSAID side effects can include heart attacks, strokes, stomachaches, ulcers, or bleeding – especially if you take large doses over a long time. To help, your doctor may prescribe a drug called misoprostol that will protect your stomach lining, or something that will lower acid and prevent ulcers, such as omeprazole.
You doctor may also suggest a different NSAID, celecoxib (Celebrex).
DMARDs and Biologics
If your disease is more severe or doesn’t respond well to NSAIDs, your doctor may prescribe a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD). These can slow or stop pain, swelling, and joint and tissue damage. They’re stronger than NSAIDs, and they may take longer to work. The most commonly used DMARDs are:
Cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune)
Methotrexate (Otrexup, Rasuvo, Rheumatrex, Trexall, )
If those don’t work, your doctor may prescribe a biologic. These are a newer type of DMARD. These medications block a protein that causes inflammation. They include:
Adalimumab-atto (Amjevita), a biosimilar to Humira
Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia)
Etanercept-szzs (Erelzi), a biosimilar to Enbrel
Infliximab-dyyb (Inflectra), a biosimilar to Remicade
You can often take biologics as a shot under your skin, but for some, you’ll need to go to your doctor’s office to get the medicine through your vein (IV). You’ll probably also take methotrexate.