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How are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used for the treatment of RA?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

NSAIDs, such as aspirin, have been used for many years to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Their main purpose is to relieve symptoms, such as joint pain and swelling. They do not slow the disease or prevent joint damage, and are not a substitute for DMARDs or biologics. Common NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), and celecoxib (Celebrex).

NSAIDs can have serious digestive side effects, so they are usually taken for only 1 to 2 weeks. People who take them longer, especially older adults, usually take another drug to protect their stomach. Celecoxib (Celebrex) is a special NSAID that is less likely to harm the digestive system. It is sometimes given to people who can't take other NSAIDs. But it is also recommended only for short-term use. 

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