Medication and arthritis
Pain relievers (Analgesics)
Pain relievers are often the first medicine your doctor will recommend to help with the pain of Arthritis.
Some relievers are available without a prescription, while others must be prescribed by a doctor. It is important to tell your doctor all the medications you are taking even if they have not prescribed it.
Paracetamol is a common treatment to help with all types of pain. Paracetamol is in many over the counter products such as cold and flu medications or in combination with other pain relievers such as paracetamol and codeine or paracetamol and anti-inflammatories.
It is very important to not double up on this medication as it can cause you harm. If you have any questions, your pharmacist or doctor will be able to guide you in the correct way to take this medication.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs reduce inflammation, joint swelling, stiffness.
They are often used in the treatment of arthritis.
They can also relieve pain that is not controlled by other pain relievers. Some NSAIDs are available without a prescription, while others must be prescribed by a doctor. It is important to not double up on taking two NSAID’s unless recommended by your doctor. To learn more, download the NSAID fact sheet.
Corticosteroids are used to reduce the inflammation and swelling in Arthritis. It is very important to take these only as prescribed by your doctor.
Creams and gels (topical analgesic medications)
Topical analgesics are sometimes called ‘joint pain relief creams’, ‘muscle pain relief gels’, or something similar. Topical analgesics are medicines that contain ingredients to reduce inflammation or pain that are rubbed into the painful area. It is best to talk to your pharmacist, doctor, or specialist before starting a new cream or gel to make sure it’s right for you. For more information, click on the NPS Creams and Gels link.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
DMARDs are used to treat inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
There are a number of different forms of medications that fall under the broad family of ‘DMARDs’. These specialized medications are prescribed by Rheumatologists. DMARDs act on the immune system to cause ‘immunosuppression’. This reduces the activity of the immune system which is attacking and damaging healthy joints. This can not only relieve symptoms but also reduce the risk of long-term damage to your joints.
To learn more about medicines and arthritis download the ‘medicines and arthritis’ information sheet which provides general information about the main types of medicines used for arthritis. It also has tips on the safe use of medicines and where to go for further information.