Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that makes the small joints of your hands and feet painful, swollen, and stiff. It’s a progressive disease that has no cure yet. Without treatment, RA can lead to joint destruction and disability.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life. Treatment depends on your condition.

Treatment plans usually include antirheumatic drugs, nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs and low dose steroids. Alternative treatments are available.

Steroids are used in treating RA.

Steroids are technically called corticosteroids or glucocorticoids. They’re synthetic compounds similar to cortisol, a hormone your adrenal glands produce naturally. Until just over 20 years ago, steroids were the standard treatment for RA.

But these standards changed as the harmful effects of steroids became known and new types of drugs were developed. The current RA guidelines of the American College of Rheumatology now advise doctors to avoid systematically prescribing glucocorticoids.

Steroids are often needed to help a patient with symptoms before they are given a drug. The steroid treatment should be given for the shortest amount of time possible.

Glucocorticoid toxicity

The benefits of the guidelines were not as great as the toxicities experienced as a result of using the drug.

The side effects can be related to the body. Some may cause infections or affect your systems.

Many clinical trials now use the Glucocorticoid Toxicity Index to evaluate these therapies.

Steroids can be taken by injection or applied to the skin.

Steroids are in pill, capsule, or liquid forms. They help reduce the inflammation levels in your body that make your joints painful. They help suppress flare-ups.

However, there is some evidence that steroids may lead to bone thinning and other side effects.

Common types of steroids used for RA include:

  • Deltasone, Sterapred, Liquid Pred are used in the manufacture of prednisone.
  • hydrocortisone is a drug.
  • Prednisolone is a drug.
  • Dexamethasone is used in the treatment of diseases.
  • methylPrednisolone is a drug. (Depo-Medrol, Medrol, Methacort, Depopred, Predacorten)
  • triamcinolone
  • dexamethasone is used in medicine.
  • It is a drug called betamethasone.

Prednisone is the most used steroid in RA treatment.


A low dose of oral steroids may be prescribed for early RA, along with DMARDs or other drugs. This is because DMARDs take 3 to 12 weeks to show results. But steroids act quickly, and you’ll see their effect in a few days.

Steroids are sometimes referred to as bridge therapy.

It is important to stop using steroids after other drugs become effective. This is done slowly. The withdrawal symptoms are prevented by the tapering.

The usual dose of prednisone is 5 to 10 mg daily. It’s recommended that you do not take more than 10 mg of prednisone per day.

“Steroids are usually taken when you wake up. Your body’s steroids become active.”

Daily supplements of calcium (800 to 1,000 mg) and vitamin D (400 to 800 units) are recommended, along with steroids.

A slightly higher dose of steroids may be used in RA when there are severe complications.

A 2020 review found that glucocorticoids are used in around 50 percent of people with RA.

People with severe RA can become dependent on steroids in order to perform everyday tasks.

Steroids can be injected into joints to relieve pain and swelling. You can do this while you are on your other drugs.

The American College of Rheumatology notes that in early RA, steroid injections into the most involved joints can provide local and sometimes systemic relief. This relief may be dramatic but is not lasting.

In some cases, steroid injections have been effective in reducing the size of RA nodules, according to 2005 research. This provides an alternative to surgery.

It’s recommended that injections into the same joint not be done more than once in 3 months.


The steroids commonly used for injection are methylPrednisolone is a drug. acetate (Depo-Medrol), triamcinolone hexacetonide, and triamcinolone acetonide, according to a 2008 review.

A local anesthetic may be used by your doctor when giving you a steroid injection.

The dose of methylPrednisolone is a drug. is usually 40 or 80 mg per milliliter. The dose may vary depending on the size of the joint that is being injected.

Your knee might need a larger dose. Your elbow may need 20 million.

Topical steroids are often used by people with arthritis for local pain relief. They can be either over the counter or prescription. But topical steroids are not recommended or mentioned in the American College of Rheumatology’s RA guidelines.

There are documented risks involved in the use of steroids in treatment for RA.

Significant risks include:

  • Cardiovascular issues. A 2020 study found that even low doses of glucocorticoids increased the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis induced by long-term steroid use is a major risk, according to 2018 research.
  • Mortality. Some studies suggest that mortality might be increased with steroid use.
  • Cataracts. Research has shown an increased risk of cataracts for people taking steroids, even when given in low doses.
  • Diabetes. Glucocorticoids have been associated with the development of new-onset type 2 diabetes.
  • Infections. Taking steroids can lead to an increased risk of both mild and life threatening bacterial or viral infections.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) issues. People taking glucocorticoids are also at an increased risk of GI tract issues, like bleeding, gastritis, and gastric ulcer formation.

The risks increase with higher dosages.

Steroids can cause side effects in treatment for the disease.

  • weight gain
  • The rounded face is also known as the moon face.
  • increased blood glucose levels
  • high blood pressure.
  • Mood disruption includes depression and anxiety.
  • insomnia
  • Leg swelling.
  • It was easy to bruise.
  • The prevalence of fractured bones is higher.
  • The adrenals are not functioning well.
  • The bone mineral density was lowered.

Steroids are usually temporary side effects. These include:

  • skin irritation
  • allergic reactions
  • Thinner skin.

Check with a doctor when side effects are troubling or occur suddenly. Monitor your blood sugar if you have diabetes.

Steroids can be used in low amounts to relieve symptoms of RA. They work quickly to relieve pain and swelling. Even at a low dose, you should consider the known dangers of steroid use.

Talk with a doctor about all your treatment plan possibilities, including biologics. Weigh the pros and cons of each treatment and drug combination and make sure all your questions are answered.

You need to be proactive in your treatment for the disease.