Treatments

These pages contain background information on some of the most common medications and therapies used to treat rheumatic disease, such as how they work, common dosages, safety tips, possible side effects, risks and things you should discuss with your health care providers if you are taking or considering these treatments.

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Spanish versions are available for some items as a pdf; the rest are coming soon! Note: our materials have recently been reviewed and updated. As part of this process, the pages are being re-translated to reflect any changes that have been made and the updated versions will be available soon. Please email pr@rheumatology.org for assistance.

This information is for general education only. Please consult your rheumatologist for medical advice, diagnosis and treatment of your unique medical condition. For more details on how working with a rheumatologist can help you live well with rheumatic disease, read our article on the importance of following your treatment plan.

A

Abatacept (Orencia)

A biologic drug used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis.

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Anakinra (Kineret)

A biologic drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. While not an FDA-approved indication, it is sometimes used to treat other rheumatic diseases such as gout, CPPD (Pseudogout) and ankylosing spondylitis.

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Anti-TNF Drugs

A class of drugs used to treat inflammatory rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), and ankylosing spondylitis.

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Azathioprine (Imuran)

A disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) used to treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis and other inflammatory muscle conditions.

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C

Clinical Research Trials

Research studies performed by physicians and other health professionals to test new treatments or new ways to use existing therapies.

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Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

a type of alkylating agent used to treat scleroderma (also known as systemic sclerosis), lupus and rheumatoid arthritis complications as well as some forms of vasculitis and myopathies.

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Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune, Gengraf)

An immunosuppressant drug sometimes used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

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H

Herbal Remedies, Supplements & Acupuncture

Objective, sound information on the benefits and risks associated with alternative therapies such as herbal remedies, supplements and acupuncture.

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Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)

A disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, some symptoms of lupus, juvenile arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

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J

Joint Injection/Aspiration

Information on joint injections and aspirations such as benefits, risks and common treatment sites.

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Joint Surgery

Joint replacement surgery may be recommended to patients who have tried non-surgical treatments but still have joint pain.

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L

Leflunomide (Arava)

A disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

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M

Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall)

A disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of inflammatory arthritis, lupus, vasculitis and some forms of juvenile arthritis.

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Minocycline (Minocin)

An antibiotic also considered to be a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) used to treat symptoms of mild rheumatoid arthritis.

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Mycophenolate Mofetil & Mycophenolate Sodium

Immunosuppressant drugs used to treat autoimmune conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and vasculitis.

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N

NSAIDs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to relieve pain and reduce signs of inflammation, such as fever, swelling and redness and include: aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), naproxen (e.g., Aleve), Celecoxib (Celebrex) and many other generic and brand name drugs.

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R

Rituximab (Rituxan & MabThera)

A drug used to treat lupus and other immune problems, rheumatoid arthritis and certain severe forms of vasculitis such as Granulomatosis with Polyangitis (Wegener's).

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S

Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)

A disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis.

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T

Tocilizumab (Actemra)

A biologic drug used to treat juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) in children over the age of two and rheumatoid arthritis.

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Tofacitinib Citrate (Xeljanz)

A Janus kinases inhibitor used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.

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