Autoimmune disorders

Rheumatoid arthritis

(RA)

About Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers.

More women than men get rheumatoid arthritis. It often starts in middle age and is most common in older people. But children and young adults can also get it. You might have the disease for only a short time, or symptoms might come and go. The severe form can last a lifetime.

Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis, the common arthritis that often comes with older age. RA can affect body parts besides joints, such as your eyes, mouth and lungs. RA is an autoimmune disease, which means the arthritis results from your immune system attacking your body's own tissues.

No one knows what causes rheumatoid arthritis. Genes, environment and hormones might contribute. Treatments include medicine, lifestyle changes and surgery. These can slow or stop joint damage and reduce pain and swelling.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Joint swelling
  • Loss of joint function
  • Can affect any joint, but most common in wrists and fingers

Top Medications for Rheumatoid arthritis according to our users

Button Group. All currently active

All Medications for Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Pain reliever > Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)

    • Arthrotec
      (Diclofenac / Misoprostol)
      Prescription only

      Arthrotec (Diclofenac / Misoprostol) is an okay medication used to treat pain and swelling caused by arthritis. However, because of the risk of heart attack, it's recommended to limit the amount you take.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Extended release
    • Cambia
      (Diclofenac potassium)
      Prescription only

      Cataflam (Diclofenac Potassium) is an okay medication used to treat pain and swelling. However, because of the risk of heart attack, it's recommended to limit the amount you take.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Powder for oral solution
    • Celebrex
      (Celecoxib)
      Prescription only

      Celebrex (Celecoxib) works well for treating pain and causes less upset stomach than other NSAIDs.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
    • Ibuprofen
      Prescription or OTC

      Advil (Ibuprofen) works well for mild to moderate pain and inflammation, but it doesn't last as long as other NSAIDs.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Chewable tablet
      • Oral suspension
    • Indocin
      (Indomethacin)
      Prescription only

      Indocin (Indomethacin) works well for mild to moderate pain and swelling, but it shouldn't be used long-term since it has some serious side effects.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Extended release
      • Liquid
      • Suppository
    • Meloxicam
      Prescription only

      Mobic (Meloxicam) works well for treating pain and causes less upset stomach than other NSAIDs.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Liquid
    • Naproxen
      Prescription or OTC

      Aleve (Naproxen) works well for mild to moderate pain and inflammation, and it lasts longer than other NSAIDs.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Delayed release tablet
      • Liquid
    • Voltaren
      (Diclofenac sodium)
      Prescription only

      Voltaren (Diclofenac Sodium) works well for pain and causes less upset stomach than other NSAIDs.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Extended release
      • Cream, gel, or ointment
      • Eye drops
  • Pain reliever > Prostaglandin E1 analog

    • Arthrotec
      (Diclofenac / Misoprostol)
      Prescription only

      Arthrotec (Diclofenac / Misoprostol) is an okay medication used to treat pain and swelling caused by arthritis. However, because of the risk of heart attack, it's recommended to limit the amount you take.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Extended release
  • Pain reliever > Salicylate

  • Anticoagulant > Anti-platelet

  • Immunosuppressant > Immunomodulator

    • Plaquenil
      (Hydroxychloroquine)
      Prescription only

      Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine) is a great medication for rheumatoid arthritis and comes with less side effects than other DMARDs.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
    • Sulfasalazine
      Prescription only

      Azulfidine (Sulfasalazine) is used for moderate to severe inflammatory bowel conditions, and with other meds for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Extended release
    • Remicade
      (Infliximab)
      Prescription only

      Remicade (Infliximab) is very effective at calming down your immune system, but you have to get each dose at your doctor's office and watch out for serious side effects.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Injection
    • Rituxan
      (Rituximab)
      Prescription only

      Rituxan (Rituximab) is effective for treating multiple types of cancer and arthritis. That said, you'll need to watch for possibly serious side effects, especially infusion reactions.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Infusion (IV)
    • Cimzia
      (Certolizumab)
      Prescription only

      Cimzia (Certolizumab) is an effective medicine to calm down your immune system, but it can be expensive and it requires a lot of monitoring while you're taking it.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Injection
    • Enbrel
      (Etanercept)
      Prescription only

      Enbrel (Etanercept) is very effective at calming down your immune system, but it's expensive, you have to take into account the hassle of injections and traveling with the medication.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Injection
    • Humira
      (Adalimumab)
      Prescription only

      Humira (Adalimumab) is very effective at calming down your immune system, but it's expensive, you have to take into account the hassle of injections and traveling with the medication.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Injection
    • Orencia
      (Abatacept)
      Prescription only

      Orencia (Abatacept) slows the progress of rheumatoid arthritis, but can also have serious side effects.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Injection
    • Imuran
      (Azathioprine)
      Prescription only

      Imuran (Azathioprine) is an effective medication for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and transplant rejection, but comes with a heavy list of side effects.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
    • Methotrexate
      Prescription only

      Otrexup (Methotrexate) is a first line treatment for many autoimmune diseases and types of cancer. If you're taking it for a long time, you'll have to get routine blood tests.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Injection
  • Antirheumatic > Biological response modifier

    • Plaquenil
      (Hydroxychloroquine)
      Prescription only

      Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine) is a great medication for rheumatoid arthritis and comes with less side effects than other DMARDs.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
    • Sulfasalazine
      Prescription only

      Azulfidine (Sulfasalazine) is used for moderate to severe inflammatory bowel conditions, and with other meds for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Extended release
    • Remicade
      (Infliximab)
      Prescription only

      Remicade (Infliximab) is very effective at calming down your immune system, but you have to get each dose at your doctor's office and watch out for serious side effects.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Injection
    • Rituxan
      (Rituximab)
      Prescription only

      Rituxan (Rituximab) is effective for treating multiple types of cancer and arthritis. That said, you'll need to watch for possibly serious side effects, especially infusion reactions.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Infusion (IV)
    • Cimzia
      (Certolizumab)
      Prescription only

      Cimzia (Certolizumab) is an effective medicine to calm down your immune system, but it can be expensive and it requires a lot of monitoring while you're taking it.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Injection
    • Enbrel
      (Etanercept)
      Prescription only

      Enbrel (Etanercept) is very effective at calming down your immune system, but it's expensive, you have to take into account the hassle of injections and traveling with the medication.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Injection
    • Humira
      (Adalimumab)
      Prescription only

      Humira (Adalimumab) is very effective at calming down your immune system, but it's expensive, you have to take into account the hassle of injections and traveling with the medication.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Injection
    • Orencia
      (Abatacept)
      Prescription only

      Orencia (Abatacept) slows the progress of rheumatoid arthritis, but can also have serious side effects.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Injection
    • Imuran
      (Azathioprine)
      Prescription only

      Imuran (Azathioprine) is an effective medication for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and transplant rejection, but comes with a heavy list of side effects.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
    • Methotrexate
      Prescription only

      Otrexup (Methotrexate) is a first line treatment for many autoimmune diseases and types of cancer. If you're taking it for a long time, you'll have to get routine blood tests.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Injection

Antimalarial

  • Anti-inflammatory, Immunosuppressant > Corticosteroid

    • Prednisone
      Prescription only

      Deltasone (Prednisone) is a common oral corticosteroid that's great for controlling the unwanted symptoms from your immune responses and will make you feel better. There are lots of side effects but most of are tolerable or can be managed.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Extended release
      • Liquid
  • Antibiotic > Tetracycline

    • Minocycline
      Prescription only

      Solodyn (Minocycline) is an effective way to treat certain skin infections, acne, and rosacea, but you'll need to use barrier methods of birth control since it can make birth control pills less effective and cause birth defects.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Extended release
      • Extended release capsule
  • Anticancer > Biological response modifier

    • Rituxan
      (Rituximab)
      Prescription only

      Rituxan (Rituximab) is effective for treating multiple types of cancer and arthritis. That said, you'll need to watch for possibly serious side effects, especially infusion reactions.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Infusion (IV)
  • Anticancer > Purine antimetabolite

    • Imuran
      (Azathioprine)
      Prescription only

      Imuran (Azathioprine) is an effective medication for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and transplant rejection, but comes with a heavy list of side effects.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
  • Anticancer > Antimetabolite

    • Methotrexate
      Prescription only

      Otrexup (Methotrexate) is a first line treatment for many autoimmune diseases and types of cancer. If you're taking it for a long time, you'll have to get routine blood tests.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Injection
  • Anti-rejection > Kidney transplant anti-rejection

    • Imuran
      (Azathioprine)
      Prescription only

      Imuran (Azathioprine) is an effective medication for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and transplant rejection, but comes with a heavy list of side effects.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill

Medication side effects for Rheumatoid arthritis

These are some of the most common side effects from clinical trials for back pain.

  • Voltaren: 4%
  • Cimzia: 12%
0 of 100

At this end, no one is expected to have back pain

100 of 100

At this end, almost everyone is expected to have back pain

Tips, success stories, and coping strategies for Rheumatoid arthritis

What tip would you give someone like me who was just diagnosed?
  • Try gluten/wheat-free diet
What’s your best coping strategy?
  • exercise
Besides medications, what else has worked for you?

No tips yet for this condition, leave a tip!