So Many Medications, So Little Time

When you are diagnosed with arthritis or first begin to experience arthritic pain, you are often in so much discomfort that you wish to quickly begin a course of treatment. While you may simply wish to decrease the pain as quickly as possible, there are nine different broad categories of arthritis medications, as well as a number of different specific drugs within each category. Unfortunately, it is crucial for you to research and understand each of these drugs in order to make the best decisions regarding your health. All of these medications have advantages and disadvantages, so speak with your doctor about the medications he or she recommends.

The most popular arthritic drugs are found in the larger category known as NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs block the hormone in the body that contributes to pain, inflammation, fever, and muscle cramping. Within this category, there are three main types of drugs-COX 2 inhibitors, which are more gentle on the stomach; traditional NSAIDs, which are available in low dosage over-the-counter forms; and salicylates, which include aspirin and are potentially dangerous if used in large dosages.

The second type of arthritis medication is known as analgesics. Unlike NSAIDS, analgesics do not address the problem of inflammation, but simply addresses the pain experienced by arthritis patients. Corticosteroids, on the other hand, work by stopping inflammation. This third category is the oldest type of arthritis drugs, and when used in small dosages they can save your joints and even your life.

DMARDs (or Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs) make up the fourth category of drugs used to treat arthritis. These medications are only effective when used before inflammation causes damage in the joints. A fifth category is actually a subset of the DMARDs category. Called Biologic Response Modifiers (or BRMs), they also stop disease progression. They are most often used when all other medications have failed.

There are also a few categories that are used for specific types of arthritis. Gout, for example, has its own bunch of medications for patients. As a seventh category, fibromyalgia also has its own personal set of drugs. As often advertised, many different medications can be taken to relieve osteoporosis as well. The eighth and final category is made of drugs that are used to treat a specific kind of arthritis known as Sjogren's Syndrome.

It is important to understand these drugs so that you can discuss your options with your doctor. If you have recently been diagnosed with arthritis or a disease that causes joint pain, research the different medication choices to learn the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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