Drug Warnings & Adverse Side Effects

Watch for Side Effects
As Reported by the Arthritis Foundation® (1)

  • NSAIDs
  • Analgesics
  • DMARDs
  • BRM
  • Corticosteriods
  • Fibromyalgia Drugs
  • Osteoporosis Drugs
  • Gout Drugs


While arthritis drugs can make physical movement easier and less painful, they can also do things you don't want like cause heart attacks, strokes, stomach cramps, edema, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness or light-headedness, headaches, heartburn or indigestion, nausea or vomiting, or increase your risk of infections, disease, and even death.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, the potential side effects of arthritis drugs are "varied and limitless."

Sometimes you can alleviate side effects of a drug by taking it with food, supplementing nutrients the drug can affect, or using other medications to ease the first drug's effects (such as a dose of acetaminophen to ease injection pain, an artificial saliva product to ease dry mouth, or an antacid to ease stomach upset). In other cases you may learn to live with the discomfort of a drug's side effects.

But sometimes the bad may exceed the good and, in rare cases, side effects can signal something life-threatening.

Below are some side effects of the most commonly used medications which require immediate attention:


Rapid or irregular pulse, hives on the face or mouth, wheezing or tightness in the chest may indicate an allergy to the drug. Call 911 or get to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Dark or tarry stools, or vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grinds could mean a bleeding ulcer. Unusual bleeding or bruising could mean the drugs are interfering with clotting. Report this to your doctor right away. [MORE about NSAIDs]


DMARDs control arthritis by supressing the immune system. Because this can also make it more difficult to fight infection, it's important that you call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of infection.

With Corticosteroids

Though corticosteroids are potent fighters of inflammation, they also have many potentially dangerous side effects, including the development of diabetes, osteoporosis, cataracts and neurological problems. If you start to notice symptoms of those, call your doctor as soon as possible.

Finally, pay attention to your body. If you're taking a medication--even one you've taken for a long while--and you notice a problem, call your doctor. "Better safe than sorry."
(1) 2003 Drug Guide, Supplement to Arthritis Today, Arthritis Foundation, 2003.

© 2004 Research Publishing Company, LLC. All rights reserved. Legal notices. Statements and excerpts from research literature are provided solely as a forum for commentary and specifically not for health or medical advice. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your physician.