Minocycline for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Minocycline for Rheumatoid Arthritis


Generic NameBrand Name
minocycline Minocin

Minocycline is given by mouth (orally).

How It Works

Minocycline is a tetracycline antibiotic. It fights bacteria in your body. It is not clear how minocycline works to reduce the activity of rheumatoid arthritis, although it may work by reducing the action of certain proteins that erode cartilage.1

Why It Is Used

Minocycline is primarily used to treat early cases of rheumatoid arthritis. It is used to treat joint pain and swelling.2

How Well It Works

In some studies, minocycline has shown some benefit in reducing symptoms, perhaps by slowing the progression of joint destruction caused by rheumatoid arthritis. It can help decrease joint pain and swelling, and shorten the time of morning stiffness.2

Side Effects

Side effects from minocycline include:

  • Nausea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Skin colour changes.
  • Rash, especially with sunlight.

Less frequent but potentially serious side effects from minocycline include:

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Minocycline should not be used by pregnant women or women of child-bearing age who are not using reliable birth control. If you are going to take minocycline, you should be on some form of reliable birth control. If you plan to become pregnant, check with your health professional before stopping birth control and trying to become pregnant.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Firestein GS (2007). Rheumatoid arthritis. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 15, chap. 2. New York: WebMD.
  2. Genovese MC (2009). Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In GS Firestein et al., eds., Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1119–1143. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
Last Revised September 30, 2010

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