Relapsing Polychondritis - Medications and Treatment

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What medications have been effective in treating your relapsing polychondritis?

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What medications are used to treat relapsing polychondritis?

For patients with more mild disease, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn), and others, can be helpful to control the inflammation. Usually, however, cortisone-related medications (steroids such as prednisone and prednisolone) are required. High-dose steroids are frequently necessary initially, especially when the eyes or breathing airways are involved. Moreover, most patient require steroids for long-term use.

Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) has shown promise as a treatment for relapsing polychondritis in combination with steroids as well as a maintenance treatment. Studies have demonstrated that methotrexate can help reduce the steroid requirements.

Other medications that have been tried in small numbers of patients with some reports of success include cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), dapsone, azathioprine (Imuran), penicillamine (Depen, Cuprimine), cyclosporine, anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) biologic medications (adalimumab [Humira], infliximab [Remicade]), and combinations of these drugs with steroids.

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Comment from: ChloeFM, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 16

I started to have relapsing poly in 2004, yet I did not know it at the time. I just had some horrible virus for 10 days. I was in bed and could not lift my head from the pillow. I recovered, but was weak. I got married. My young son playfully jumped on me and subluxed my chest area. It hurt, but not horribly. For the next two months, I suffered greatly. I would awaken in the morning screaming in pain because my sternum and rib cage would be so inflamed that I could not move. I tried sleeping on the floor and armchair. Everything hurt. It finally settled down after a few months. I experienced a similar type of pain in both hips, but not from doing anything extraordinary just walking. In May of 2010 I have a very bad pain incident in my left side as we were about to set sail on a cruise to Bermuda. We almost had to cancel the trip. It was a trying week at sea. I had such pain I almost went to a Bermudian hospital. At the time it seemed gastro-related. Push ahead two years: I have pain in the left side of my rib cage, left hip joint, and left ankle, and my right ear begins to ring and hurt when hearing high-pitched noises. I had to constantly pop the right ear. Every time my stomach issue flares, I have pain in my rib, ankle, and hip. This still doesn't paint a picture of something yet. About two months ago, I started feeling slightly dizzy. I would feel it at various times throughout the day. One time I had to lie down on my kitchen floor. Also, my right ear started to feel swollen and fill up I had to keep popping it. It hurt to hear high-pitched music. My eyes started to bother me, too. They ached, felt unclear, and looked yellow and bulging. Then my left ear started to get red, painful, and swollen. My ribs and hip started to hurt again. It was so bad I went to urgent care. They diagnosed me with relapsing polychondritis. But my rheumatologist says he doesn't think I have it. He has not seen me since both of my ears flared and the rib pain has become debilitating. I have a hard time breathing when my ribs hurt so badly. The urgent care doctor prescribed prednisone. It has been two weeks and I ended up in the ER twice in four days because of the intense nerve pain in my ribs. I was prescribed Dilaudid and more prednisone. I hope this goes into remission.

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