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What can it do?

Welcome to the beta Arthritis Virtual Assistant. At the moment it can give you general information about your condition and medication, and provide you with useful exercises to help manage your arthritis.

Why do we need your help?

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant has been built to learn and improve with every use. That way, whenever you use it, you’re indirectly helping another person get the answers that they need for their arthritis.

What can you ask?

You'll get the best response if your question relates to a single type of arthritis, and is expressed as clearly and simply as possible. For example, "What are the best exercises for osteoarthritis?" or "What are the side effects of methotrexate?"

Are you sure you want to close your conversation?

Your conversation will not be visible the next time you visit the Arthritis Virtual Assistant. If you want to keep a copy of the advice you've been given, you can print it using the button at the top of the chat window.

Arthritis Virtual Assistant

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant is being developed into a brand new type of tool which will help you to get the answers you need for your type of arthritis.

This automated chat service is designed to provide general information about your condition and ways you can manage it. It’s been developed from over 80 years of our research work and also learns from the experiences of its users. It’s a ‘beta’ version which means it’s still learning from you, and others. It uses artificial intelligence to decide which are the best responses to give you and it will improve each time it’s used. The better the information we can provide then the more people we can help to manage their condition too.

The advice in this service isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice so we’d always recommend speaking to your doctor about your treatment. When you use the Arthritis Virtual Assistant, you’ll be asked for your first name and the type of arthritis you have, there’s no need to tell us anything more personal than that.

By using the Arthritis Virtual Assistant you confirm that you understand and accept the terms of use and consent to how we will use the information you provide.

Helpline 0800 5200 520 More information

Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes.
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> > > > What is azathioprine and why is it prescribed?

What is azathioprine and why is it prescribed?

Azathioprine (trade name: Imuran) is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). It reduces the activity of the body's defence mechanism (immune system), which may be overactive in some conditions.

Azathioprine modifies the underlying disease process to limit or prevent tissue damage and disability, rather than having an immediate effect on symptoms. It's a long-term treatment, so it may be 6-12 weeks before you start to notice the benefits.

Unless you have severe side-effects it's important to keep taking azathioprine:

  • even if it doesn't seem to be working at first
  • even when your symptoms improve (as this will help to keep the disease under control).

Azatioprine is usually initiated by a specialist for people with:

Your doctor may also prescribe azathioprine if you're on steroid treatment so that your steroid dose can be reduced.

Azathioprine may need to be used with caution, in reduced doses if:

  • you have severe liver or kidney problems
  • you have bone marrow problems.

If you're on other medications which could interact with azathioprine (e.g. allopurinol, warfarin) then your doctor may suggest another treatment or a different dose either of the azathioprine or of your other medication.

Before prescribing azathioprine, your doctor may order a blood test for an enzyme called TPMT (thiopurine s-methyltransferase). This enzyme helps to break down and remove azathioprine from the body. Low levels of TPMT may mean there is a little more risk of side-effects from azathioprine, so your doctor may suggest a lower dose than usual.

If the result is very low, azathioprine may not be the right medication for you, and your doctor will discuss other treatments with you.


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis. Open Mon–Fri 9am–8pm.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

Virtual Assistant

Our new Arthritis Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to answer your arthritis related questions 24/7.

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Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.