Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Prednisone as a Treatment for Arthritis

1) Prednisone is powerful
As a corticosteroid, it works by reducing inflammation and changes how your immune system works. It is often prescribed for arthritis but also treats a variety of other conditions. If used from the beginning, this drug has been shown to reduce and prevent future joint damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis. In general, corticosteroids are used for short periods of time such as when you experience a flare-up of your arthritis.
2) It may be just one part of your treatment plan
Since this drug is associated with a number of side effects, the least amount of use is typically the best. Therefore, other drugs may be prescribed to you at the same time to treat your arthritis. This may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, or various over the counter medications. Under a doctor's supervision, these drugs may be prescribed in a bigger dosage than what is safe for Prednisone.
3) There may be life style changes involved
There are some things you cannot do while taking this drug. For example, you should not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit. Grapefruit can negatively impact some of the enzymes that work to break down the drug. You may also need to increase your daily amount of potassium and calcium and limit salt intake.
4) There are many side effects
Typically, the more powerful a drug, the more side effects you are going to experience. Prednisone is a very powerful drug, and therefore side effects come with the territory. Many side effects are mild, but you should still discuss them with your physician. Common side effects include weakness, insomnia, fatigue, headache, dizziness, heartburn, sweating, changes in skin texture or color, bulging eyes, irregular or absent periods, or difficulty healing. There are also some possible long-term side effects that include osteoporosis or stunted growth in children. Some side effects are more severe and you should alert your doctor immediately if you experience them: seizures, twitching muscles, hives or skin rash, difficulty with breathing or swallowing, vision problems, vomiting, unusual swelling, signs of infection, confusion, or depression.
5) Other Warnings
Other than side effects, there are some other things you must deal with: conflicting medications, decreased resistance to infection, or complications resulting from surgeries, pregnancy, dental work, and vaccines. Do not suddenly stop taking Prednisone. You must wean off the drug slowly to allow your adrenal glands to begin producing cortisol on their own again.