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Arthritis and Joint Pain Medications: Side Effects You Might Not Be Aware Of

By    |   Friday, 07 August 2015 06:43 PM

Nearly all medications come with some risks and side effects. How they impact patients who have arthritis and joint pain differs from person to person.

But there may be some side effects that are not often shared, even with common drugs used to treat arthritis symptoms.

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Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, commonly called NSAIDs, can upset the stomach, cause feet and ankles to swell (edema), and may increase the risk for stroke, blood clots, and even a heart attack, according to The Arthritis Foundation.

While corticosteroids are known to reduce inflammation, The Arthritis Foundation said they can also bring on cataracts, bone loss, increased appetite, and higher levels of blood sugar and blood fats in the body.

Many with progressed arthritis problems take doctor-prescribed DMARDs — disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. They are thought to slow down damage to both organ systems and joints, and they work by suppressing the immune system. They are a part of treatment protocol for conditions like lupus, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis, the AF said.

Many of these medications require a long time period to become effective, however, and are expensive. They also come with more risky side effects.

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"In studies, people who took a biologic had a higher risk — 13 percent versus 12 percent — of experiencing a serious life-threatening allergic reaction, infection, lymphoma, or other serious side effect than those who took a placebo," said Consumer Reports. "The serious or potentially life-threatening infections include bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, or staph, and serious fungal infections."

Other possible side effects, Consumer Reports noted, are allergic reactions, liver damage, and cancer.

"Although all of these (DMARD) drugs can significantly delay the long-term damage associated with rheumatoid arthritis, they also all lose their effectiveness over time, usually by two years," according to the book, "What Your Doctor Won't Tell You About Autoimmune Disorders. "Gastrointestinal and other side effects are common and can be very serious: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (especially with gold), mouth sores, rash, kidney and liver damage, headache, eye damage (hydroxycloroquine), osteoporosis (methotrexate), hair loss (leflunomide), lung disease, and an increased risk for infections."

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Nearly all medications come with some risks and side effects. How they impact patients who have arthritis and joint pain differs from person to person.
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Friday, 07 August 2015 06:43 PM
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