Typical Drugs Prescribed for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Their Mechanism of Action

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that has no known cure. It affects millions of people worldwide. These people and their families rely on the concerted efforts of medical, surgical, pharmaceutical, and rehabilitation professionals so that they may lead a better quality of life. While there is no cure, a respite from symptoms is possible with drugs, surgery, and rehabilitation/therapy. We shall put a spotlight on the four main groups of RA drugs.


Doctors prescribe regular painkillers for patients with mild to moderate pain due to RA, but for more severe symptoms, opioids may be the drug of choice. Tramadol and Acetaminophen are commonly prescribed non-opioid drugs. In some instances, patients take a combination of analgesics and opioids. Combination products available in pharmacies include acetaminophen with codeine, aspirin with dihydrocodeine, acetaminophen with oxycodone, and other opioids with analgesics combination.

Steroids (Corticosteroids)

Prednisone is a fast acting steroid typically prescribed for RA. In some instances, the steroids are injected instead of taken orally. A doctor will opt for the former if the goal is to relieve severe pain felt in a specific joint. Side effects from use of steroid injections are limited especially since doctors use the lowest possible dosage.

Anti-inflammatory medication

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are mainstays in the RA drug regimen. They are quite effective because their action is directed to the inflammatory process, which characterizes a flare-up of symptoms. Aspirin, Diclofenac, Celecoxib, Indomethacin, Ibuprofen, Ketoprofen, and Naproxen are anti-inflammatory drugs. Strong NSAIDs are available only with a doctor’s written prescription.

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)

DMARDs typically come in tablet form and are designed to ease symptoms while slowing down disease progression. Side effects on the liver and blood count necessitate laboratory tests, and regular follow up with the physician.

There are four main drug groups typically prescribed by doctors for patients seeking help with rheumatoid arthritis from places like RedRiver Health and Wellness Center in South Jordan. These are analgesics, steroids NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs).

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