Why Do Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Hate Prednisone?
By Nathan Wei
One drug that is often used in the early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is prednisone. Prednisone is a glucocorticoid. Glucocorticoids are drugs that have biologic activity similar to the hormones made in the adrenal glands.
These drugs are chemically synthesized and are used to treat a variety of inflammatory disorders.
Glucocorticoids, while very effective for treating inflammation, have many potential side effects including thinning of the skin, acne, weight gain, fluid retention, blood sugar elevation, cataracts, stomach ulcers, suppression of normal adrenal gland function, osteoporosis, psychosis, and avascular necrosis (bone death).
Most of these side effects occur when prednisone is given in high doses over an extended period of time. In rheumatoid arthritis, prednisone is used in low doses and gradually tapered depending on a patient