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Department of Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane (HFI-40)
Rockville, MD 20857
May 2000
(FDA) 00-1270

Help Your Arthritis Treatment Work

The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, is part of the United States government. It is FDA's job to make sure medicines for arthritis and other illnesses work and are safe.

Ease the Pain, Help Prevent More Damage

Arthritis can strike at any age. It hurts the joints, where two bones meet. It damages the joints and makes them stiff and painful. Sometimes it's so bad it can cripple a person.

Correct treatment can ease the pain and help prevent more damage.

You can help your treatment work. This booklet tells how.

If Your Joints Have Signs of Arthritis, Talk To Your Doctor

If you have arthritis, the doctor may prescribe a medicine for you or tell you to use a medicine you buy without a prescription, like aspirin.

You may need to take more than one medicine.

Joints With Arthritis May Have:

  • swelling
  • warmth
  • redness
  • pain

Before Taking New Medicine, Ask Your Doctor About It


  • How should I take this medicine?
  • Are there any special instructions?
  • What side effects could there be?
  • If I have any side effects, what should I do?
  • What should I do if I forget to take a dose?

If you took the medicine before and it caused problems, tell the doctor.

Tell the doctor if you are taking other medicines. And ask if you should keep taking them.

Read the Label Of Medicine You Buy Without a Prescription

Like arthritis medicine, many medicines for headaches or colds or flu have pain killers in them. Some common pain killers are aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen.

So before you buy any medicine, read the label to see what's in it.

Does it have a pain killer? If it does, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it's OK for you to take it.

Be Careful With Medicine

  • Never take any medicine for arthritis without your doctor's advice.
  • Never take someone else's medicine.
  • Keep all medicine away from children.
  • Throw out medicine that reaches its "Discard" or "Exp" (expiration) date.

Remember: There can be problems with any medicine, even those you can buy without a prescription.

Rest and Exercise

You may need extra rest when your arthritis gets worse, or flares up. But even then, it's good to gently exercise the joints that hurt.

Gentle exercise can ease the pain and help you sleep better. Ask your doctor how to exercise your joints.

Learn About Your Arthritis

It helps to learn about your arthritis. Many people do this by joining a group with other people who have the disease.

To find a group, look in the newspaper. Or ask your doctor or the hospital. The local Arthritis Foundation office has information, too.

Remember: Never take someone else's medicine.

Watch Our for 'Cures' That Don't Work

Some people with arthritis can't find any treatment that helps very much. That's why there are so many ads for gadgets, health foods, and supplements to treat arthritis.

Many of these have never been tested. They're just a waste of money.

Protect Yourself With the Facts

Pain and stiffness often come and go by themselves, for no known reason. You may use an untested product and then feel better. But you may have felt better even without the product.

There is no cure for arthritis. But correct treatment can ease pain and stiffness.

If you use worthless products, you delay real help. So the damage gets worse.

Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true

What If Correct Treatment Doesn't Help?

If all else fails, an operation might help. Talk about this with your doctor

Do You Have More Questions About an Arthritis Treatment?

Ask your doctor or other health-care worker.

And ask FDA. There may be an FDA office near you. Look for their number in the blue pages of the phone book.

You can also contact FDA through its toll-free number, 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332). Or, on the World Wide Web at

Or call the Arthritis Foundation's toll-free number, 1-800-283-7800.

 Download PDF Brochure from FDA

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