Understanding DMARDs - Rheumatology Consultant London | Rheumatologist London | Dr Stephanie Barrett



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Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug therapy is becoming more regularly used in the treatment of rheumatic diseases. DMARDs are a specific type of medication that work to change and modify the disease itself. They slow or stop the inflammatory process which results in pain and damage to the joints ad organs.

DMARDs interact directly with the immune system. Other drugs are usually taken too so as not to compromise a patient’s general health. They are also often prescribed alongside painkillers as they can take up to 12 weeks start to work.

Types of DMARDs

There are three standard types of DMARDs:


Known as “traditional” DMARDs and usually taken orally, these drugs have a broad immune suppressant effect.


Biologic DMARDs are usually taken by self-injection or infusion. They target specific molecules within the immune system and work to slow the disease’s effect on them.

Targeted DMARDs

The newest type of DMARDs once again focus in on individual immune system molecules.

The research and information around this type of therapy grows day by day. It has the potential to slow and stop inflammation so research continues.

Why have I been prescribed DMARDs?

The sooner the inflammation related to rheumatoid arthritis and similar conditions lessens, the better the chances of keeping it under control are. Symptoms such as pain and joint stiffness decrease rapidly once inflammation lessens. They quickly and effectively target inflammation and slow its process.

DMARDs take some time to work but their effect is usually significant and worth the wait. Like all drug therapies, your doctor may consider a combination of options and trial them before settling on the best range for your individual condition.

Not all people with rheumatoid arthritis need this kind of treatment. It is dependent on the individual symptoms, pain levels and the extent of inflammation around the joints.

If you want to find out more about the drug therapies available for rheumatoid arthritis and discuss your condition with Dr Barrett, you can fill in an appointment form online.