Enbrel® is a prescription medication that helps manage symptoms of joint pain, swelling, and stiffness related to rheumatoid arthritis. Chemically, it is classified as a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor, meaning that it blocks the action of inflammation-inducing TNF signals from the immune system. Enbrel® is widely available and appropriate for both adults and children who suffer from chronic arthritis. Most people do not experience serious side effects, but skin rashes, dizziness, and other adverse reactions are possible. Doctors are careful when prescribing the drug to minimize the chances of negative reactions.
Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis cause problems when TNF proteins trigger uncontrollable inflammatory responses in body joints. Enbrel® and its generic form etanercept work by seeking out TNF proteins in the body and binding to receptor sites, preventing them from inflaming nearby cells. With TNF activity halted, joints begin to recover and other symptoms related to arthritis such as fever and fatigue are relieved.
Enbrel® comes in pre-filled syringes designed to be injected just underneath the skin. When prescribing the drug, a doctor usually provides the first injection in his or her office to demonstrate the proper procedure. Patients or family members can administer subsequent injections at home. The drug can be injected in the thighs, arms, or torso, and doctors recommend choosing different sites for each dose to prevent skin irritation.
Dosage amounts can vary based on patients' ages and particular symptoms, but most adults are instructed to take one 50 milligram dose or two 25 milligram doses a week for about three months. Children with rheumatoid arthritis are usually given weekly 25 milligram doses. Doctors usually recommend that patients return for regular checkups during the course of treatment to see if Enbrel® is working or if dosing amounts need to be adjusted.
The risk of side effects when taking Enbrel® is relatively low, but some patients develop mild skin rashes at injection sites within a few minutes of taking a dose. An individual may also feel dizzy, nauseous, and confused. Allergic reactions are possible as well, which can lead to widespread rashes and airway constriction. A patient who experiences mild side effects should keep taking Enbrel® and report them to their prescribing doctors. If an allergic reaction becomes severe enough to inhibit breathing, a person should go to the emergency room right away. Arthritis cannot be cured, but patients who tolerate the drug well often experience significant long-term relief.