RA Medications

There are a LOT of medications available to RA science experiments. I found a list online at RxList that is very thorough and very daunting. They look at a range of medications, including natural remedies.

Check out the summaries of the RA drugs that are available at If you click on a particular drug's name link, you can drill down into the specifics about how that drug works and what the side effects and issues of using it might be. Very helpful. 

Here are some of the drug classes and types of medications used to treat RA.

Analgesics. Analgesics, or painkillers, are a staple of RA treatment. Mild-to-moderate RA pain can usually be treated with non-opioid analgesics. But for severe pain, opioids and opioid combinations are more effective. That increased effectiveness does come with the potential for side effects, including drowsiness and constipation. 

Anti-Inflammatory Medications. This class of drugs is also known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They work by inhibiting and/or interfering with chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. 

Biologic Agents. Biological drugs are proteins manufactured using recombinant DNA technology. They are immunosuppressants that target and block the action of cells or chemicals that enable the immune system to cause inflammation and other symptoms of RA. Biological agents are called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) because by suppressing components of the immune system they reduce symptoms and reverse the course of RA.

Janus Kinase (JAKs) Inhibitors. JAK inhibitors are the newest class of drugs used to treat RA. They work by blocking Janus kinase JAKs) enzymes located within stem cells and other cells. JAKs enzymes are involved in stimulating immune responses that contribute to symptoms of RA.

Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are synthetic versions of anti-inflammatory chemicals normally produced in the body. They are powerful, but long-term use can result in severe side effects, including weaker bones and a depressed immune system. 

Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs). DMARDs don't just relieve pain and/or inflammation of RA, they actually can alter the course of the chronic disease, and help stop some of the damage from getting worse. DMARDs include the biological drugs as well as non-biological drugs. 

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