How do medications treat arthritis?

Dr. Tom N. Baccam, DO
Family Practitioner

Etanercept and other newer DMARDS (disease modifying agents) have a dramatic role in reversing and maintaining a remission in arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.

Getting medical care, which may include being prescribed with medications, is a must for psoriatic arthritis. Most cases of psoriatic arthritis are not severe, but early treatment is essential to prevent joint damage that can occur in the first few years. If psoriatic arthritis is not treated, it can cause joints to become deformed and lead to long-term discomfort and disability.

Various medications are used to treat arthritis, usually by addressing pain and inflammation. Simple painkillers like acetaminophen can be used to take care of mild pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help with both pain and inflammation. Some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, can be treated with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, which are used to slow the progress of the disease. Steroids can slow joint damage and reduce pain and inflammation, and they can be taken by mouth or injected into the affected joint. Topical creams that contain chemicals like capsaicin (the spicy chemical in cayenne pepper) or menthol may also be applied directly to the joint to treat the pain caused by arthritis.

If you have psoriatic arthritis, you can manage the symptoms by educating yourself about the condition and working with a knowledgeable doctor, possibly a rheumatologist (an arthritic specialist). You should also find ways to manage your stress levels since stress can trigger a flare-up of your symptoms. In confronting the psychological and physical demands of psoriatic arthritis, having the emotional support of family and friends can help, too.

Psoriatic arthritis may also be relieved with dietary supplements, such as glucosamine, chondroitin, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e). Certain exercises, physical therapy, and heating and icing the joints can help increase the movement and reduce pain. In severe cases, surgery may be used to improve a patient's mobility.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.