Our understanding of bone and joint health and the conditions that affect them continues to evolve leading to a better understanding of how to manage these conditions and improve the quality of life of affected individuals. This overview focuses on the management and treatment of chronic inflammatory arthritis and autoimmune disease, which has made dramatic strides in recent years, allowing people to not just live but thrive. Individuals can learn more about the management and prevention of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, which often co-exist with chronic inflammatory conditions.

Treatment of Chronic Inflammatory Arthritis

New and innovative treatment approaches have changed the face of chronic inflammatory arthritis allowing many people to live with less pain and better function. The treatment is a multifaceted process that may include medication, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery. The main goals of treatment are to control inflammation and slow or stop disease progression. Early, aggressive treatment provides the best results.

Treatment can be somewhat of a moving target. It will evolve based on your current set of symptoms and stage of disease.  Occasional shifts in treatment may be necessary to achieve maximum control of your symptoms, so don’t be surprised if your doctor makes a change to your drug dosage, adds a drug or drugs, or changes to an entirely new type of drug. You will be closely monitored in order to determine how treatment is working for you. You can help with this process by keeping your doctor well informed about your symptoms and any medication side effects that you experience.

Important progress had been made in managing this condition and additional progress is on the horizon. New approaches to treatment in combination with close and regular monitoring of disease activity—are slowing the progression of this disease and allowing some people to achieve a remission.

Medications Used to Treat Chronic Inflammatory Conditions

Advances in our understanding of the immune system, inflammation and the impact on bone, joint and overall health have led to earlier and more aggressive treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions and autoimmune diseases. Because it is now recognized that joint and other organ damage begins early in the course of these diseases, earlier use of drugs that alter the course (and that allow more patients to achieve a remission) has now become common. An ever expanding number of different types of medications are becoming available, and decisions about which drug or combination of drugs to use will depend on your particular situation. Your rheumatologist will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan.

During treatment, make sure that all of your healthcare providers are informed about all of your medications. This includes prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements. Some products may not be safe to combine with your prescription medications.1,2

Drug Therapies

A wide variety of drug therapies are now available.   The key to success is matching the degree of illness with the corresponding drug. Each drug category has associated side effects and physicians want to limit those exposures to a minimum. Essentially, the goal is to take the most appropriate number of medicines associated with the least number of side effects to achieve the best therapeutic response.

Types of Medications:

Next: Measuring Disease Activity


1 Singh JA, Furst DE, Bharat A et al. 2012 update of the 2008 American College of Rheumatology recommendations for the use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologic agents in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Care & Research. 2012;64:625-639.

2 Scott DL, Wolfe F, Huizinga TWJ. Rheumatoid arthritis. The Lancet. 2010;376:1094-1108.