Prednisone Dosage for Rheumatoid Arthritis / Disease (UPDATED 2016)
The prednisone debate is actually more than one debate. How much? For how long? Does it only mask symptoms? Or does it slow the disease? At what risk? A wide range in prednisone dosage for rheumatoid arthritis has been used to study its risks and benefits. This makes it more difficult to compare its risks and benefits. This series examines some the most modern theories and studies on prednisone use for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Interested in the history of steroids and RA? Here’s a couple of articles you’ll love
History of prednisone dosage for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Back when my grandfather and some of our older warriors took glucocorticoids, it was cortisone. The doses were high. The results were great. The side effects were devastating.
Soon doctors recognized the dangers and glucocorticoid use became much more conservative – even scarce. They prescribed aspirin, and gold. Eventually, prednisone gained the trust of doctors because, though a weaker form of steroid, it retains the legendary effectiveness. Steroids have become the miracle drug for many conditions, especially for acute illnesses. However, for Rheumatoid Disease, the debate continues.
“More than 50 years after their introduction into clinical practice, the possible disease-modifying effect of glucocorticoids remains unresolved, as do the differing opinions on their side effects. This leads to totally contradictory statements by respected opinion leaders concerning the role of glucocorticoids in the management of RA,” Arthritis and Rheumatism, Germany.
4 Types of prednisone dosage for Rheumatoid Arthritis
1. Bridge: These days, prednisone for Rheumatoid Arthritis is often recommended as a bridge medicine. It temporarily suppresses the symptoms of RA, giving slower acting treatments time to take effect. This is prednisone at its best, showing off immediate and glorious results and then exiting stage left.
2. Bursts: Another common way that RA is treated with prednisone today is with short term higher doses in a taper fashion. A prednisone burst is often several days to treat an RA “flare,” but can be longer. It varies a great deal according to the philosophy of the doctor.
3. Long-term low dose: When DMARDs are not effective in controlling RA, prednisone may be used as a long term component of the treatment. You might find it interesting to read the comments about the length of time many RA patients have used prednisone on this previous post – click here. There are not very many articles advocating long-term use of prednisone, but there are a lot of doctors prescribing it that way. The notion of how low is a “low dose” seems to vary a lot with doctors, as you’ll see when you read those comments. (Note: low often means 10mg per day or less and very low means 5mg per day or less.)
4. Long term high dose: I’ve never seen this advocated in an academic journal or by a university hospital. There is no way to prove how common this is, but I’ve personally heard from many patients who have lived it. How high is high? How long is long? It’s subjective, of course. But, I’ll tell you what my doctor said when I mentioned some of the doses that I’ve heard from other patients. Doc joked, “Are those rheumatologists in jail?”
Early low-dose prednisone for Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is a lot of talk about treating Rheumatoid Arthritis early with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). In recent years, there have even been several studies on very early treatment in attempts to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow a way to bring remission to more patients. Some researchers have shown that the use of low-dose steroids early in the disease increases the rate of remissions and improves clinical status. In the next post in this series, we’ll look closer at the use of low-dose prednisone in early Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Prednisone and Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Prednisone Uses for Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis Today
- Prednisone Side Effects