Ankylosing Spondylitis Medications

Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)

DMARDs are another class of drugs that doctors may recommend for ankylosing spondylitis treatment. These drugs relieve painful, swollen, and stiff joints. However, unlike NSAIDs or corticosteroids, DMARDs may also slow down joint damage. They take a few weeks or months to have an effect, and may produce significant improvements for many people. Exactly how they work is still unknown.
 
Side effects vary with each medicine. DMARDs may increase the risk of infections, hair loss, and kidney or liver damage. By having a doctor monitor a person's progress with such a medication, the risks of toxicities can be weighed against the potential benefits of individual drugs.
 
Two DMARDs used as ankylosing spondylitis medications include:
 
Methotrexate
This medication can be taken by mouth or by injection. Although it usually takes three to six weeks to begin working, it appears to be effective, resulting in rapid improvement of symptoms.
 
Side effects of methotrexate can include:
 
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Mouth sores
  • Painful urination
  • Sore throat
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness.
 
Doctor monitoring is important, particularly if you are an alcoholic or have an abnormal blood count, liver or lung disease, immune-system deficiency, or an active infection. Do not take methotrexate during pregnancy -- it may cause birth defects.
 
Sulfasalazine
This medication works to reduce the signs and symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis by suppressing the immune system.
 
Side effects of sulfasalazine can include:
 
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
  • Aching joints
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Skin rash.
 
Doctor monitoring is important, particularly if you are allergic to sulfa medications or aspirin, or if you have a kidney, liver, or blood disease.
 
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Ankylosing Spondylitis Information

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