Corticosteroids are prescription medications used to control pain, swelling, stiffness, and disease progression in psoriatic arthritis and other conditions associated with joint inflammation.
Corticosteroids are synthetic hormones that suppress immune system response. Cortisone, prednisone, prednisolone, and methyl-prednisolone are examples of corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are believed to work by inhibiting or blocking inflammatory responses within the body.
How do I take it?
Corticosteroids may be administered orally or injected into joints. In cases of psoriatic arthritis, corticosteroids are most frequently injected into joints. Corticosteroid injections s should not be given more than once every three or four months in the same joint.
Oral corticosteroids are usually only prescribed to people with psoriasis for short courses at low doses, since they can cause exacerbations of psoriasis skin symptoms. Orally, corticosteroids are taken once or more times per day, or every other day. If you decide to stop taking oral corticosteroids, it is important to tell your doctor and follow a schedule to taper off your dosage. Do not suddenly stop taking oral corticosteroids.
Side effects from corticosteroid injections are rare, but may include infections, bleeding inside the joint, discoloration of the skin, or the rupture of a tendon. If corticosteroid injections are given too frequently in the same joint, they may eventually cause the bone, ligaments, and tendons of the joint to weaken.
When taken orally for a short time, corticosteroids 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 oral corticosteroids 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 oral 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 corticosteroids.
Taken orally, corticosteroids 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.
For answers to frequently asked questions about exposure to Prednisone and Prednisolone during pregnancy and breastfeeding, visit the experts at MothertoBaby.org.