Medicines and arthritis
Analgesics (pain relievers)
Pain relievers are often the first medicine your doctor will recommend to help with the pain. Some relievers are available without a prescription, while others must be prescribed by a doctor.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs reduce inflammation, joint swelling and stiffness. They are often used to treat inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. They can also relieve pain that is not controlled by analgesics alone. Some NSAIDs are available without a prescription, while others must be prescribed by a doctor.
Corticosteroids are used to treat inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. They can also be used to treat a single inflamed joint.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
DMARDs are used to treat inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Many DMARDs act on the immune system to cause 'immunosuppression'. This reduces the activity of the immune system which is attacking and damaging healthy joints. This can not only relieve symptoms but also reduce the risk of long-term damage to your joints. DMARDs may be used on their own or combined with other DMARDs or medicines to gain the best control of your arthritis. There is also a specific group of DMARDs available, known as 'biological DMARDs' (bDMARDs). These block certain substances in the blood and joints that cause inflammation. This reduces inflammation and halts joint damage. bDMARDs can only be used if other DMARDs have not worked. DMARDs and bDMARDs are usually only prescribed by specialists. Regular blood tests are usually necessary to test the effectiveness of these medicines and to check for any unwanted side effects.
To learn more about medicines and arthritis download the 'medicines and arthritis' information sheet which provides general information about the main types of medicines used for arthritis. It also has tips on the safe use of medicines and where to go for further information. It does NOT cover the full range of possible side effects for each medicine and you should discuss this further with your doctor or pharmacist.
Arthritis Aware Pharmacy Program
Living with a chronic condition is hard and requires a trusted health care team around you to provide sound advice and up to date information. Arthritis SA recognises that pharmacists are a valuable member of this team and have provided further training to selected pharmacists to help them help you. These Arthritis Aware Pharmacies can provide 1:1 health coaching, resources and personalised advice on your arthritis medications .
To find your nearest Arthritis Aware pharmacy phone (08) 8379 5711 or download the list of registered pharmacies.