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Medications for arthritis


Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, causing the patient to feel pain on the joints, and making them less flexible or having difficulties to move. There are many types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, septic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and others.

The treatment of arthritis may vary for each patient depending on the type and severity of the arthritis. Among the treatments that may be recommended by the doctor are lifestyle changes such as appropriate exercise or weight management, consumption of medicines, physiotherapy, or surgical intervention in more severe cases.

Medicines Usage

Depending on the type of arthritis, various types of medicines may be used in the management of arthritis. Generally, these medicines are intended to be used to reduce the inflammation of the joints and hence, ease the joint pain that the patient is experiencing.

Types of Medicines

Examples of medicines that may be suggested for the treatment of arthritis are listed as below :

Mechanism of Action
Analgesic (painkiller) Relieving the joint pain
  • Paracetamol
  • Tramadol
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) Reducing inflammation and pain on the affected joints
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) Reducing the autoimmune attack on joints by the body immune system and preventing further damage of the joint (usually used in cases of rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Methotrexate
  • Hydroxychloroquine
Corticosteroid Reducing the joint inflammation and autoimmune attacks by the body immune system
  • Prednisolone
  • Hydrocortisone

Side Effects

Consumptions of medicines for the treatment of arthritis may cause side effects if taken in high doses for a long duration. It is advisable for the patients to take medicines in the lowest dose or shortest duration possible to avoid unwanted side effects.

Examples of side effects that may occur upon consumption of NSAID are irritation of the gastrointestinal tract that can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomachache or indigestion. On the other hand, consumption of corticosteroid may cause side effects such as weight gain or increased risk of infection for the patient.

Please inform and discuss with your doctor or pharmacist if you are having any side effects upon consumption of the medicines so that optimal treatment may be given to treat the illness.

Special Precautions

  • Take NSAID with food to prevent stomach irritation or discomfort.
  • Do not stop the consumption of corticosteroid abruptly without notifying your doctor.
  • Read the label before taking medicine and only take medicine as instructed by the doctor.

Tips on Pain Management

  • • Do some light exercise involving movement of joints such as brisk walking, dancing or swimming.
  • Avoid any position or body postures that can strain the affected joints.
  • Practise healthy lifestyle through balanced diet and appropriate exercise to prevent excess body weight.
  • Discuss with your doctor or pharmacist if the joint pain does not subside even with consumption of medicines so that other alternatives can be suggested.


  1. Mayoclinic : Arthritis(http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/basics/treatment)
  2. Micromedex
  3. MIMS Gateway Service Portal
  4. Veteran’s Medicines Advice and Therapeutics Education Services (MATES) oleh Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Australian Governement (Sept 2005)
  5. WebMD : Arthritis (http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/understanding-arthritis-treatment)
Last Reviewed : 06 November 2014
Writer/Translator : Hazlin bt. Othman
Reviewer : Munira bt. Muhammad