- Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Exercises to Relieve Arthritis Pain
- Quiz: What Causes RA?
- Find a local Rheumatologist in your town
- What are steroids?
- How are steroids given?
- How do steroids work?
- What conditions are treated with steroids?
- What are the benefits of steroids?
- Why are steroids injected?
- What conditions (including arthritis) are treated with steroid injections?
- What are the expected benefits of steroid injections?
- What role do steroid injections play in an overall treatment program?
- When should steroid injections not be used?
- What side effects are associated with steroid injections?
- What are the possible side effects of oral steroids?
- Does everyone develop side effects to steroids?
- How can the side effects be minimized?
- Who should not take steroids?
- How do I know if steroid treatment is right for me?
Quick GuideRheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Pictures Slideshow
Introduction to Steroids
Steroids (short for corticosteroids) are synthetic drugs that closely resemble cortisol, a hormone that your body produces naturally. Steroids work by decreasing inflammation and reducing the activity of the immune system. They are used to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases and conditions.
Corticosteroids are different from anabolic steroids, which some athletes use to build bigger muscles. Examples of corticosteroid medications include triamcinolone, cortisone, prednisone, and methylprednisolone.
How Are Steroids Given?
Steroids can be given topically (cream or ointment), by mouth (orally), or by injection. When injected, they can be given into a vein or muscle, directly into a joint or bursa (lubricating sac between certain tendons and the bones beneath them) or around tendons and other soft tissue areas.
How Do Steroids Work?
Steroids decrease inflammation and reduce the activity of the immune system. Inflammation is a process by which the body's white blood cells and chemicals protect the body against infection and foreign organisms such as bacteria and viruses.
In certain diseases, however, the body's defense system (immune system) doesn't function properly and is overactive. This may cause inflammation to work against the body's own tissues and cause tissue damage. Inflammation is characterized by redness, warmth, swelling and pain.
Steroids reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals in order to minimize tissue damage. Steroids also reduce the activity of the immune system by affecting the function of white blood cells.