Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)
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What Is the Medical Treatment for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?
The aim of treatment is to stop or slow down the progress of inflammation, thus relieving symptoms, improving function, and preventing joint damage and other complications. Specific objectives are to reduce joint swelling, stiffness, and pain; maintain full range of motion of all joints; and identify and treat complications early, when they can be stopped or reversed. The success of treatment is checked by regular physical examinations and interviews.
Medication is the foundation of treatment in JIA. The medications that work best in JIA reduce inflammation, which in turn reduces symptoms. Aggressive, early treatment is the best way to stop or slow the disease over the long run as well as prevent permanent joint damage. Various classes of medications used in JIA are described here.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for JRA
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain. They work by blocking an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase (COX), which promotes inflammation.
Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) for JRA
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are not a single class of drugs. Rather, they are a wide variety of different drugs that act in many different ways. Their main similarity is that they interfere in the immune processes that cause inflammation and JIA. DMARDs can slow or stop the progression of JIA and thus prevent joint damage and disability.
Examples of DMARDs include methotrexate (now considered the "gold standard" for those with JIA), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), azathioprine (Imuran), cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral) and several others. Side effects include immune suppression which may result in an increased risk of infection, lung toxicity, liver function abnormalities, abdominal pain and decrease in appetite.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/11/2016
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