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How Steroids Are Being Used For Arthritis


Inflammation is the root cause of many health conditions, and one of the well-known chronic diseases it causes is rheumatoid arthritis. This disease leads to painful, stiff swelling in the small joints of the feet and hands. As a progressive condition, arthritis has no known remedy currently. However, there are treatments to reduce symptoms and prevent the destruction of joints that results in disabilities. 

Like most health issues, the key to a successful treatment is early diagnosis. This can enable your doctor to offer treatments that alleviate symptoms and enhance the way you live with the disease. 

Consequently, the type of treatment you’ll get depends on your specific condition. Generally, treatment options include low-dose corticosteroids (also known as steroids) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) combined with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Let’s look at the different ways steroids are used in the treatment of arthritis. 

How Steroids Interact With The Body

Generally speaking, steroids reduce inflammation and inhibit the activities of the body’s immune system. Inflammation occurs when the white blood cells of the immune system attempt to protect the body against foreign dangers like viruses, infections, and bacteria. 

In the case of some diseases, the body’s natural defenses overact, leading to inflammation that harms the tissues and results in tissue damage. Inflammation usually comes with swelling, warmth, pain, and redness. 

Steroids inhibit tissue damage resulting from inflammation by decreasing their production. Despite this benefit, when buying corticosteroids like Canadian Anabolics Steriods in Canada, you need to use them in the smallest dosage possible, as research suggests. 

There are three ways you can use steroids. Continue reading to learn more. 

  1. Oral Steroids For Arthritis

You can take oral steroids in three different forms, including liquid, capsule, and pill. Collectively, they enable your body to decrease inflammation that causes stiffness, pain, and swollen joints. They also modulate your immune system by preventing higher activity. In addition to these, some studies indicate that they also help decrease bone deterioration. 

Common Types of Oral Steroids Used For Arthritis

Some common examples of oral steroids taken to treat symptoms of arthritis are as follows: 

  • Methylprednisolone (Predacorten, Medrol, Depopred, Depo-Medrol, Methacort)
  • Prednisolone
  • Betamethasone
  • Prednisone (Liquid Pred, Sterapred, Deltasone)
  • Dexamethasone (Decodron)
  • Hydrocortisone (Cortef, A-Hydrocort)
  • Triamcinolone
  • Dexamethsone (Hexadrol, Decaron, Dexprak Taperpak)

In most situations, prednisone is the preferred steroid for arthritis. 


The prescription of oral steroids usually comes in low doses. They are also taken in combination with DMARDs or any other substitutes. The reason is that the effects of DMARDs don’t show up until 8-12 weeks. On the contrary, steroids take effect quickly, and you’ll notice their impact in a matter of days. They are sometimes termed as “bridge therapy.”

As soon as other drugs are taking effect, it’s essential to reduce the steroids to the barest minimum. However, it’s best to do this gradually to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Normally, the daily dose of prednisone is 5 to 10 mg. Doctors advise against taking more than 10 mg of prednisone within a day. If necessary, you may receive 5mg of prednisone in two doses. 

Typically, you’ll take your steroids each morning after waking up. Your body’s natural steroids also resume activity around this time. It’s recommended to combine your treatment with daily vitamin D supplements (400-800 units) and calcium (800-1,00 mg). 

NB: In some extreme cases,  doctors may prescribe steroids in higher doses.  Reports from a 2015 review show that 20 to 40 percent of newly diagnosed arthritis patients relied on steroid treatments. It also disclosed that about 75 percent of all arthritis patients used steroids during their treatment at some point. 

  1. Steroid Injections For Arthritis

Injections are also another safe way of using steroids for your joints and other areas with swelling and pain. It offers relief from these symptoms while you keep taking other drugs. As usual, the drugs in question will depend on the degree of symptoms you experience and other factors specific to you.


Scientific reports from the American College of Rheumatology suggest that directly injecting steroids into the joints suffering the symptoms can help with localized and systemic relief for early-stage arthritis. Although you may experience significant relief from steroid injections, it worth noting that they won’t last. 

In some instances, steroid injections proved effective and helped shrink the size of arthritis nodules, serving as a substitute for surgery. However, It’s not advisable to take more than one injection in the same joint in less than three months. 


The steroid injections commonly used for rheumatoid arthritis cases include:

  • Triamcinolone hexacetonide
  • Triamchinolone acetonide
  • Methylprednisolone acetate (Depo-Medrol)

You may also have to take a local anesthetic before receiving a steroid injection. And your doctor will administer it. 

If you’re getting methylprednisolone, the dose is generally between 40 to 80 mg per milliliter. The quantity may differ according to the size of the joint that’s receiving the injection. For instance, you have to take a large dose in your knee, as much as 80 mg. However, your elbow might only require 20mg. 

  1. Topical Steroids For Arthritis

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

You can get topical steroids both as prescription and over-the-counter drugs. They come in handy for alleviating surface pain caused by arthritis. However, the American College of Rheumatology guidelines doesn’t make any mention of them. 

Typical Risks Associated With Steroid Use For Arthritis

There’s still some controversy surrounding steroid use in arthritis treatment due to the risk document from its use. Some of them include: 



Heart attack



The higher the dose and the longer you use steroids, the greater the risks involved.

Adverse Effects

Possible side effects of steroid use include:

  • Weight gain
  • Easy bruising
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Insomnia
  • Higher likelihood of viral or bacterial infection
  • Leg swelling
  • Rounded face, known as “moon face”
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Mood disruptions like anxiety and depression
  • Reduce bone mineral density
  • Allergic reactions
  • Skin thinning or irritation


The treatment plan for rheumatoid arthritis can comprise steroids in low doses to relieve inflammation and pain symptoms. The steroid helps by quickly reducing swelling and the discomforts associated with it. However, you need to closely examine the side effects and the risks that come with using steroids, even if you’ll only take small doses. 

Overall, it’s advisable to check out other treatment alternatives such as antibiotic minocycline and biologics. Consider the pros and cons of these treatments one after the other and learn the drug combinations. Ideally, you want professional medical advice at this point. Therefore, the best step you can take is talking with your doctor. 












Ram Kumar blogs at DeviceBowl. He is a graduate in Computer Science and Engineering. Addicted to Blogging and Coding.

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