How Effective Is Sulfasalazine for Arthritis?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 11 April 2019
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Sulfasalazine for arthritis can be effective and low-risk for patients. It tends to be most appropriate for patients with mild cases of arthritis that have developed recently and can be used in combination with other medications to increase efficacy. Other treatment options are available if the patient doesn’t respond to the drug or appears to be allergic to it. Arthritis is notoriously challenging to treat; consequently, drug researchers have developed a wide range of medications to fight this inflammatory disease.

The precise mechanism through which sulfasalazine for arthritis works is not fully understood, but the medication clearly reduces inflammation in patients. It can take several months for it to become fully effective. Once it does, the patient can experience a drop in pain and soreness levels. Reducing inflammation also protects the joints in the long term by preventing tissue damage and injuries. This increases the chance that joints will remain functional as the patient ages.

Other drugs may be recommended in combination with sulfasalazine for arthritis, to attack the condition from several angles. This may include a number of options, depending on a medical professional’s experience and preferences. Complementary medicine like acupuncture and herbs can be considered for patients interested in this, and a care provider may recommend light exercise and dietary changes as well to help the patient control the inflammation.


Taking sulfasalazine for arthritis appears to be safe in pregnant women, although it is advisable to discuss it and other medications with an obstetrician. Patients planning to get pregnant might want to talk about medication options to reduce the chances of taking a medication that could injure the fetus in the early stages of pregnancy. Obstetricians may have specific recommendations based on patient history or personal experience with people using these medications. Breastfeeding mothers should also discuss potential side effects before taking this or other medications.

Bad reactions to sulfasalazine can occur. Some patients develop nausea, vomiting, rashes, and other unpleasant side effects after taking sulfasalazine for arthritis. These may indicate the presence of an allergy or another problem, such as a drug interaction. Patients can discuss the situation with a medical provider to determine if they need to adjust the dosage or stop using the medication for safety. To err on the side of caution, therapy may be discontinued with the reaction noted, in case the patient has a dangerous drug allergy.



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