If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you know what it’s like to wake up to stiff, achy joints. You’ll also know that NSAIDs are among the medications used to treat RA.
Rheumatoid Arthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis, is a common condition affecting the joints. I’ve had people come up to me asking for advice about their RA meds. Some tell me that the meds cause stomach pain, and they’re wondering what to do about it.
Well, first things first! Let’s talk about RA and its symptoms.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and its Symptoms
There are many forms of arthritis and RA is among the most common. It presents as swelling in the joints of the fingers, hands, feet and knees. IN some cases, it can cause symptoms that affect other parts of the body.
The most common symptoms of RA include:
- Tender, swollen, painful joints
- Joint stiffness, which is especially felt upon waking up or after periods of no activity
- Joint redness and warmth
- Limited movement in affected joints
- Limping and deformities
- Fever and fatigue
- Anemia and weight loss
Most of these symptoms start out as mild. Joint symptoms usually happen in smaller joints first, like those in your fingers. As the condition progresses, it can affect larger joints like the knee joint.
Medications and Tips to take them
There are various medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. These include NSAIDs, steroids, and drugs called DMARDs. Most patients are prescribed with NSAIDs for the pain, along with another medication to stop the disease from getting worse.
NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can help lessen the swelling and stiffness. They can also effectively block the pain. Ibuprofen and naproxen are over-the-counter NSAIDs that can be useful. Other stronger NSAIDs are available by prescription.
Like many medications, NSAIDs have some adverse effects. One of the most common is causing an upset stomach. This can happen especially if you take your medication on an empty stomach. Long-term use may also cause bleeding in the stomach lining. This is why it’s important to know how to take NSAIDs correctly.
You can also read my post about Best Time To Take Medicines – Everything You Need to Know.
Useful Tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Take your dose with food. Never take a NSAID on an empty stomach, as this can cause ulcers and bleeding.
- Use the lowest possible dose. Lower doses of a medication are less likely to cause stomach upset and other risks.
- Do not take a NSAID for the long-term. Though an NSAID can greatly help manage your Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms, it’s best to only take them during a flare-up. There are other medications that can help treat RA that is much safer in the long term.
- Always check with your doctor or pharmacist when taking NSAIDs along with other medicines. Don’t take NSAIDs with blood-thinning medications like warfarin and clopidogrel. Be careful as well if you’re taking it with aspirin.
- Don’t take NSAIDs if you have gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease, GERD, ulcers and gastritis. Talk to your doctor for help.
NSAIDs are very effective for managing pain, swelling and other symptoms. Though they do have their own risks, they can work well to bring relief from pain. Follow the tips above and you’ll have lesser chances of horrid side effects!