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Prednisone is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1950s. Prednisone is used to control pain, swelling, stiffness and disease progression in rheumatoid arthritis. Prednisone may be prescribed to control acute flare-ups, or for short periods until disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as Methotrexate can take effect. In general, it is best keep your dose of Prednisone as low as possible and to limit the length of time you take Prednisone at high doses in order to avoid serious side effects.

Prednisone may not be appropriate for pregnant women or people who have systemic fungal infections.

Prednisone is a corticosteroid, a type of hormone that suppresses immune system response. Prednisone is weaker than Medrol. Prednisone is believed to work by inhibiting or blocking many different inflammatory responses within the body.

How do I take it?
Corticosteroids may be administered orally or injected into joints. Prednisone is usually taken orally once or more times per day, or every other day. If it is injected into joints, Prednisone should not be taken more than once every three or four months.

If you decide to stop taking oral Prednisone, it is important to tell your doctor and follow a schedule to taper off your dosage. Do not suddenly stop taking oral Prednisone.

Prednisone is only prescribed in higher doses, greater than 40 milligrams per day, during acute flare-ups. Maintenance doses are generally 20 milligrams or less per day. Lower doses carry less risk of serious side effects.

To help prevent the development of osteoporosis while taking Prednisone, ask your doctor about calcium and vitamin D supplements, preventative medications, and weight-bearing exercises.

Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking Prednisone.

A 2004 article reviewed the use of corticosteroids for rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers found that 44 to 75 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis take corticosteroids. The researchers conclude that while corticosteroids can cause serious and debilitating side effects, especially at higher doses, the benefits they provide at lower doses make them an important treatment in rheumatoid arthritis.

Side effects
When taken for a short time, Prednisone can cause side effects including high blood sugar, fluid retention, rounding of the face known as “moon face,” insomnia, euphoria, depression, anxiety and mania.

Longer-term effects of taking Prednisone can include joint softening or destruction, diabetes, weight gain around the trunk, dementia, osteoporosis that may result in fractures, Cushing’s syndrome, glaucoma and cataracts.

People taking Prednisone or other corticosteroids are more susceptible to infection due to the immunosuppressive nature of the drug. Avoid exposure to people who are sick and wash hands frequently while taking Prednisone.

Like all corticosteroids, Prednisone can cause psychological side effects such as mood swings, aggression, agitation, or nervousness. Notify your doctor if these changes become intense or difficult to manage.

Rarely, Prednisone can also cause allergic reactions. Get medical help immediately if you experience difficulty breathing or swelling in the face, throat, eyes, lips, or tongue.

Prednisone for Rheumatoid Arthritis Questions

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