Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder. If you have this condition, you are familiar with the swelling and painful joints it causes.

Natural wear and tear that occurs with aging is not the cause of these pains. Your immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of your joints and other organs and tissues. No one knows why this happens or why some people develop it.

There is no cure for RA, but there are ways to treat it. For example, a doctor might prescribe medications that slow down the progression of the disease or suppress your immune system. They may also give you drugs that just reduce joint swelling and pain.

The current recommendation for the initial treatment of RA is with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). One of these drugs is methotrexate. Keep reading to learn how this medication works, including how effective it is in treating RA.

Methotrexate is a DMARD, a class of medications often used in the early stages of RA. A few drugs in the DMARD class were specifically made to treat RA.

The reason for the development of methotrexate was different. It can be used to treat both cancer and RA. It is a generic form of the drug and can be used for injection.

Methotrexate and other DMARDs work to reduce inflammation. They do this by suppressing your immune system. But keeping the immune system in check this way slightly increases your risk of infections.

methotrexate has side effects, but it also has benefits for people with RA. If you use ometrexate early on, it will prevent joint damage. It can also help relieve symptoms of the disease.

RA may also increase your risk for other conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Methotrexate may decrease the risk of developing these conditions in people with RA.

But due to its high potency and effectiveness in treating RA, the benefits of this medication may be worth the risks.

When used for RA, ometrexate is a long-term drug. Most people take it until it no longer works for them or they can no longer tolerate its effects on their immune system.

The drug ometrexate works well for treating RA.

According to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), methotrexate is the drug of choice when starting RA therapy. The amount of research done since the early 1980s supports methotrexate as the mainstay of therapy.

Studies show good safety, flexible dosing, low cost, and treatment success.

Doctors writing the new treatment guidelines for ACR and EULAR note that methotrexate must be used to its full potential. If pills are not working well enough, doctors should switch to an injection and target the best dose quickly.

Methotrexate often beings to work within 3 months, and then therapy is continued for at least 6 months to evaluate the full benefits of the medication. Once there is relief from symptoms and joint damage after taking methotrexate for a time, some doctors may try to reduce your dose to the lowest possible level.

In combination with other drugs

“If you do not reach remission with methotrexate alone, you can combine other drugs for pain and inflammation to make it more effective. If you don’t respond to methotrexate by yourself, keep this in mind. You can talk to the doctor about the therapy.”

In addition to having a high level of effectiveness, methotrexate is also prescribed for its safety profile, and serious side effects are uncommon. But like all medications, methotrexate can cause side effects, including:

  • upset stomach
  • fatigue
  • thinning hair or hair loss
  • There are mouth ulcers.
  • pancytopenia, or low red blood cell, white blood cell and platelet levels
  • high levels of bile
  • It is not good to be drowsiness.
  • The amount of appetite is decreased.
  • There is a lot of diarrhea.

The risk of side effects can be increased by using other medications and methotrexate together.

Folic acid is prescribed along with methotrexate to help prevent these problems. During treatment with methotrexate, a doctor will check your blood cell counts, liver function tests, kidney function, and lung function. Changes to your blood cell counts or liver function tests may cause a doctor to lower your dosage.

Methotrexate may cause a slight increase in your risk of developing an infection.

“You don’t need to stop the drug if you have side effects. The doctor may reduce your dose to see if they will go away. The rare side effect of allergic inflammation in the lungs requires stopping methotrexate.”

If you have a condition like RA, you should talk to a doctor. methotrexate has a long track history and decades of research that shows it works well without causing severe or difficult-to-manage side effects.