Pain relief medications are not sufficient for treating arthritis. These drugs are used for symptomatic treatment of arthritis. The underlying cause of arthritis cannot be addressed by these drugs. Inflammatory arthritis is a form of autoimmune disorder, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the tissues of the joints.
Disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) provide relief from the symptoms of arthritis and reduce recurrent flare-ups by modifying the activities of the immune system.
Hydroxychloroquine sulfate is a popular DMARD used for treating inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
How to Use Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate for Arthritis
At the initial stage of treatment, about 200 to 400 mg of hydroxychloroquine is taken daily. The appropriate dosage and duration of the treatment depends on the severity of arthritis, health condition of the patient and response to the drug. To avoid stomach upset following hydroxychloroquine intake, the medication should be taken with milk or food.
According to your response to hydroxychloroquine during the early stage of treatment, your doctor may consider increasing the dosage. Hydroxychloroquine works slowly. You have to wait for at least 12 weeks to experience improvement in the symptoms of arthritis. After the condition of the joints improve after taking the drugs for several months, the dosage is usually reduced. For maintenance therapy, hydroxychloroquine is taken twice or thrice each week.
When is Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate Prescribed?
Hydroxychloroquine sulfate is prescribed for keeping inflammatory arthritis flare-ups under control. However, it is not used as a first line drug for treating arthritis pain. It is usually used as a maintenance therapy for reducing inflammation and pain of the joints and preventing arthritis flare-ups. For best results, it is usually combined with other anti-arthritic drugs for managing inflammatory arthritis.
How Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate Works
Hydroxychloroquine works by inhibiting production of inflammatory compounds that trigger swelling of the joints. In addition, by inhibiting the activities of certain enzymes associated with degradation of cartilage, hydroxychloroquine can prevent destruction of cartilage that causes osteoarthritis.
What are the Side Effects of Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate?
Hydroxychloroquine is usually well tolerated. In some cases, it may cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, nausea, headache or dizziness. Serious side effects, of hydroxychloroquine use, although rare, include back pain, hair loss, hearing loss, mood changes, rapid heartbeat, vision problems, tinnitus and skin problems.
Who Should Not Use Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate?
This disease modifying antirheumatic drug is not suitable for people suffering from certain medical conditions. It is usually not recommended for people with a history of allergy to aminoquinoline drugs. People with a risk of developing vision problem following use of this drug should avoid it. Hydroxychloroquine passes into breast milk. Therefore, it should not be taken while breastfeeding. It is usually not recommended for pregnant women. This drug may not be suitable for people with liver diseases, dermatitis, psoriasis and certain blood disorders.
Interaction of Hydroxychloroquine with Other Medications
This anti-rheumatic drug may interact with certain medications. It should not be taken with pencicillamine, digoxin and high doses of isoniazid and acetaminophen.