Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for JIA

Most young people with JIA are treated first with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are called first-line medications because they are usually the first type of medication a doctor will use to treat JIA. These medications do not contain steroids.

How do NSAIDs work?

As you learned in the first section, JIA is joint inflammation. NSAIDs decrease the chemicals that cause inflammation and help to reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints. These drugs can help you to participate in normal day-to-day activities. It might take between eight to 12 weeks to see improvement.

Types of NSAIDs

There are several different NSAIDs used to treat JIA. The choice of medication is based on the type of JIA you have, how easy it is to take, and which drug your doctor thinks is best for you. Sometimes one NSAID might work while another might not. You may need to try several NSAIDs to find which one works best for you.

The following are NSAIDs commonly used to treat JIA.


NSAID generic name Most common brand name How it is given How the medication comes Side effects
Naproxen Naprosyn By mouth, twice daily Liquid or pill Common side effects:

  • Stomach upset (pain, nausea)

Less common side effects:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloody or tarry black stools
  • Severe abdominal pain from stomach ulcers
  • Dizziness, drowsiness, headaches
  • Rash, hives or itching
  • Fragility and scarring of the skin
  • Nosebleeds, bleeding gums, easy bruising
  • Anemia, mild abnormalities in liver or kidney function
Ibuprofen Advil; Nurofen By mouth, three to four times daily Liquid or pill
Indomethacin Indocid By mouth, three times daily Liquid or pill
Diclofenac sodium Voltaren By mouth, up to three times daily Pill
Piroxicam Feldene By mouth, once daily Pill
Celecoxib Celebrex By mouth, twice daily Pill
Meloxicam Mobic By mouth, once daily Pill

Important safety points about taking NSAIDs

• NSAIDs should always be taken with food. This can make it easier on your stomach.

• One rare side effect of NSAIDs is stomach ulcers. If you develop persistent stomach upset with your NSAID medication, talk to your doctor. He or she may prescribe a drug to help protect your stomach from developing ulcers. Signs of an ulcer may include vomiting blood or passing a bloody or black stool. If this occurs, you should stop your NSAIDs and see your doctor immediately.

• Your doctor may order blood and urine tests when you come to the clinic to make sure that your medication is not causing any problems in your body that you might not feel.

• If you need to take another medication for pain or fever, take acetaminophen (Tylenol). DO NOT TAKE another NSAID (like ibuprofen: Motrin or Advil) because then you would be taking too much anti-inflammatory medication, leading to more side effects.

Tips for managing side effects of NSAIDs

Take your NSAIDs with food. For example, try to pair taking your pills with breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If you need to take your medications at school, try to carry a small snack with you.

Some NSAIDs may make you sun sensitive. Use adequate sun protection, like sunscreen, while taking NSAIDs, especially if you are fair-skinned.


Welcome to the Taking Charge: Managing JIA Online Program! In this section you will learn what to expect in the program, how to get started and how to set goals to better manage JIA.

JIA stands for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Find out what causes JIA, the different types of JIA and how it will affect you now and in the future.

Diagnosing JIA may be difficult as joint pain and swelling may be a part of many different illnesses. Diagnosis of JIA typically includes a physical exam, blood tests and imaging studies.

Pain, stiffness, and tiredness or fatigue, are common symptoms of JIA. These symptoms can lead to difficulties with participating in school and sports activities, and enjoying time with your friends. Learn about pain, fatigue, and stiffness, how to manage symptoms and how these symptoms can cause stress.

There are several strategies you can use to help you cope with pain, stress, and sleep problems. These include relaxation, distraction, and managing your thoughts. In this section, learn more about how each of these strategies work.

When you know about your medications, you can talk to your doctor about them and make good choices for yourself. Find out about the different types of JIA medications, how they work, common side effects, and the importance of talking to your doctor about your medication plan.

Did you know that there are many other therapies that you can use to manage JIA symptoms? They can help to prevent complications so that you can do all the things you want to do. In this section, learn more about physical, occupational, and psychological therapies; maintaining healthy nutrition; surgical options for JIA, and more.

Your role in making decisions about your treatment plan is very important. Your health-care team and other members of your support system are available to help you make these decisions. In turn, they can help you to manage your JIA.

Whether you have JIA or not, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Find out how to stay healthy and active, learn about puberty and relationships, healthy body image, and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Sometime between the ages of 18 to 22, you most likely will transition from your pediatric rheumatologist to the adult health care setting. At that time, there are a number of things you, your family, and your health-care team can do to help make this change go smoothly.