Corticosteroids are hormones that are effective at treating conditions that cause inflammation, including arthritis. However, they can cause serious side effects, especially when used for a long time. For this reason, corticosteroids are usually only recommended when other treatments have been tried unsuccessfully. While these medication are often effective when taken by mouth, they may have to be injected -- often directly into the affected joint -- in order to be effective. A few commonly used corticosteroids include:
- Hydrocortisone (Cortef®)
- Methylprednisolone (Depo-Medrol®, Medrol®)
- Prednisolone (Ovapred®, Pediapred®)
- Triamcinolone (Kenalog®, Aristospan®).
Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
DMARDs are drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in people who have not responded to NSAIDs. These drugs are thought to influence and correct abnormalities of the immune system responsible for the disease. As a result, DMARDs can slow down the joint damage that occurs with these conditions. During treatment with these medications, your healthcare provider should carefully monitor you in order to avoid side effects.
Various DMARDs used as arthritis medications include:
- Azathioprine (Imuran®)
- Cyclosporine (Gengraf®, Neoral®, Sandimmune®)
- Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil®)
- Gold sodium thiomalate
- Leflunomide (Arava®)
- Methotrexate (Rheumatrex®)
- Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine®).
Biological Response Modifiers
These new drugs are used for the treatment of several types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. They can reduce inflammation in the joints by blocking the reaction of a substance called tumor necrosis factor (TNF), an immune system protein involved in immune system response. These arthritis medications can include:
Two other biological response modifiers, abatacept (Orencia®) and anakinra (Kineret®), are approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis only.