Corticosteroids (i.e. Prednisone)

What are corticosteroids?

Corticosteroids are hormones naturally found in the body. Additional corticosteroids are given to lessen swelling and redness, and provide relief for inflamed areas such as joints. One commonly known brand name is prednisone. This medicine does not cure arthritis and will help you only as long as you continue to take it.

How do I take it?

Corticosteroids are taken daily. This drug is used for both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The dose for this medicine is dependent on the patient needs. Your doctor will tell you how many pills to take and how often. Follow your doctor’s directions. For the best results, take these pills at the same time every day. Do not take more or less medicine than ordered. This medicine may be taken with or without food.

What else should I know?

Corticosteroids have side effects, especially if high doses are taken for a long time. Upset stomach, bloating, increased appetite, and weight gain, are the most common side effects. Long-term use can also lead to bone loss or osteoporosis. Your doctor will monitor you frequently. Report any unpleasant effects to your doctor. You may want to watch your calorie intake to prevent excessive weight gain. It is also a good idea to limit your salt intake.

What about other medications?

When you are taking corticosteroids, it is very important that your doctors know if you are taking any other medicine. This includes prescription and non-prescription medicines as well as vitamins and herbal supplements.

Corticosteroids can be taken with other medications, however it is best to have your doctor’s advice before adding another drug to your daily routine.

Updated: October 10, 2012

Victoria Ruffing, RN

About Victoria Ruffing, RN

Ms. Ruffing has been a member of the Arthritis Center since 2000, currently serving as the Nurse Manager. She is a critical member of our patient care team.