There are a number of commonly prescribed medications used to treat musculoskeletal conditions and relive pain, although most fall under one of three classes: corticosteroids, anti-rheumatic drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs. While these drugs are safe and approved for use during treatment, they can lead to side effects after prolonged use.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, or NSAIDS

This is the most commonly used class of drugs for pain relief and inflammation and includes over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Orthpaedic doctors may also use prescription NSAIDS for interim pain relief, fever reduction and inflammation reduction. These medications are not designed to cure an underlying problem but instead offer temporary relief. Most are available in pill form, including oxaprozin, diclofenac, etorolac and ketoprofen.

Corticosteroid Medications

These medications are used to relief symptoms of serious conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. While corticosteriods have associated side effects, they offer effective inflammation relief and also help the body repair tissue damage by providing energy. These medications may be given orally, topically, through an intravenous needle or by injection directly into the tissue that’s inflammed. The use of corticosteriods requires monitoring by a doctor, although they offer immediate relief from symptoms. Commonly prescribed cortiosteriods include cortisone, methylprednisolone and prednisone.

Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs, or DMARDs

Finally, these medications work in a very different way than both corticosteriods and NSAIDs, which treat inflammation and pain. DMARDs are used to treat the underlying disease itself by slowing the acceleration of joint disease. While they cannot offer a cure, these medications do offer relief that may last for months or even years.