Video Q & A:

Pain Relief for RA

Question:

How do anti-inflammatory painkillers help relieve RA pain?

Expert:   Linda Russell, MD, Hospital for Special Surgery »

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease, so it follows that anti-inflammatory medication can relieve some pain. Check out this video to learn about this pain relief option.

Transcript: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, known as NSAIDS, ease aching, swollen joints by reducing inflammation, which lessens pain. Many NSAIDs -- such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium and aspirin—are sold over-the-counter, but stronger formulations are available by prescription. Along with other side effects, NSAIDs come with a risk of gastrointestinal problems. You should never mix over-the-counter NSAIDs with prescription ones because doing so increases your chance of dangerous side effects, such as stomach bleeding or ulcers. Celecoxib, which may be easier on the stomach, is a cox-2 inhibitor. It relieves inflammation and pain in a different way than traditional NSAIDs do. But it is known to cause heart problems, and you need to be monitored carefully while taking it. Rheumatologists used to prescribe and recommend NSAIDs immediately after a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, but now these pain relievers are used to dull the pain of flares or provide additional pain relief when you’re waiting for the benefits of a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug, such as methotrexate, to kick in. Your pain level tells the doctor HOW MUCH of which NSAID you should take. Talk with your doctor frequently about your level of pain relief; if one NSAID doesn’t help, you can try another. To learn more about rheumatoid arthritis treatment, watch other videos in this series. More »

Can't Find an Answer? Send us your question »