What is prednisolone, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Prednisolone is a synthetic adrenal corticosteroid (cortisone). Corticosteroids are natural substances produced by the adrenal glands located adjacent to the kidneys. Corticosteroids have potent anti-inflammatory properties, and are used in a wide variety of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, colitis, asthma, bronchitis, certain skin rashes, and allergic or inflammatory conditions of the nose and eyes. There are numerous preparations of corticosteroids including tablets, capsules, liquids, topical creams and gels, inhalers, eye drops, as well as injectable and intravenous solutions. The FDA approved prednisolone in June 1955.
What brand names are available for prednisolone?
Flo-Pred, Pediapred, Orapred, Orapred ODT
Is prednisolone available as a generic drug?
Do I need a prescription for prednisolone?
What are the side effects of prednisolone?
Prednisolone side effects depend on the dose, the duration and the frequency of administration. Short courses of prednisolone - days to a week or two - are usually well tolerated with few and mild side effects. Long-term, high doses of prednisolone will usually produce predictable and potentially serious side effects. Whenever possible, the lowest effective doses of prednisolone should be used for the shortest length of time to minimize side effects. Alternate day dosing can also help reduce side effects.
Side effects of prednisolone and other corticosteroids range from mild annoyances to serious irreversible damage. Side effects include
- fluid retention,
- weight gain,
- high blood pressure,
- potassium loss,
- muscle weakness,
- puffiness of and hair growth on the face,
- thinning and easy bruising of the skin,
- peptic ulceration,
- worsening of diabetes,
- irregular menses,
- growth retardation in children,
- convulsions, and
- psychic disturbances. (Psychic disturbances can include depression, euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and even psychotic behavior.)
Prolonged use of prednisolone can depress the ability of body's adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids. Abruptly stopping prednisolone can cause symptoms of corticosteroid insufficiency, with accompanying nausea/a>, vomiting, and even shock. Therefore, withdrawal of prednisolone is usually accomplished by gradual tapering. Gradually tapering prednisolone not only minimizes the symptoms of corticosteroid insufficiency, but it also reduces the risk of an abrupt flare of the disease under treatment.
Prednisolone and other corticosteroids can mask signs of infection and impair the body's natural immune response to infection. Patients on corticosteroids are more susceptible to infections and can develop more serious infections than healthy individuals. For instance, chickenpox and measles viruses can produce serious and even fatal illnesses in patients on high doses of prednisolone. Live virus vaccines, such as smallpox vaccine, should be avoided in patients taking high doses of prednisolone, since even vaccine viruses may cause disease in patients taking prednisolone. Some infectious organisms, such as tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, can remain dormant in a patient for years. Prednisolone and other corticosteroids can reactivate dormant infections in these patients and cause serious illnesses. Patients with dormant TB may require anti-TB medications while undergoing prolonged corticosteroid treatment.
By interfering with the patient's immune response, prednisolone can impede the effectiveness of vaccinations. Prednisolone can also interfere with the tuberculin skin test and cause false negative results in patients with tuberculosis infection.
Prednisolone impairs calcium absorption and new bone formation. Patients on prolonged treatment with prednisolone and other corticosteroids can develop thinning of bone (osteoporosis) and an increased risk of bone fractures. Supplemental calcium and vitamin D are encouraged to slow this process of bone thinning. In some patients, medications used to treat osteoporosis may be prescribed. In rare individuals, destruction of large joints (osteonecrosis) can occur while undergoing treatment with prednisolone or other corticosteroids. These patients experience severe pain in the involved joints, and can require replacement of joints. The reason behind such destruction is not clear.
What is the dosage for prednisolone?
Dosage requirements of corticosteroids vary among individuals and the diseases being treated. The usual starting dose range is 5 mg to 60 mg daily depending on the disease being treated. Doses are adjusted based on patient response. In general, the lowest possible effective dose is used. Corticosteroids given in multiple doses throughout the day are more effective, but also more toxic than alternate-day therapy where twice the daily dose is administered every other morning. Prednisolone should be taken with food to reduce irritation of the stomach and intestines.
Which drugs or supplements interact with prednisolone?
Rifampin decreases blood levels of prednisolone by increasing its breakdown in the liver. The dose of prednisolone may need to be increased in order to avoid therapeutic failure.
Corticosteroids have variable effects of warfarin (Coumadin) therapy. Coagulation levels should be monitored more closely when anticoagulants are combined with corticosteroids.
Estrogens may increase the levels of prednisolone by decreasing its breakdown. When estrogens are used with prednisolone, side effects of prednisolone should be monitored.
Steroids increase blood sugar (glucose) levels and, therefore, reduce the effect of drugs used for treating diabetes.
Activity of cyclosporine and corticosteroids increase when both drugs are combined. Seizures have been reported.
Combining aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids increases the risk of gastrointestinal side effects.
Combining corticosteroids with potassium-depleting agents (for example, diuretics) increases the risk of low blood potassium (hypokalemia). Vaccines are less effective in patients on prolonged corticosteroid treatment because corticosteroids suppress the immune system. Corticosteroids may also allow organisms contained in live attenuated vaccines to replicate.
What else should I know about prednisolone?
What preparations of prednisolone are available?
- Tablets: 5 mg.
- Tablets (Disintegrating): 10, 15, 30 mg
- Syrup or Suspension: 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 mg/5 ml (teaspoon).
How should I keep prednisolone stored?
Store at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F). Do not refrigerate.
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Prednisolone (Flo-Pred, Pediapred, Orapred, Orapred ODT) is a corticosteroid prescribed to achieve prompt suppression of inflammation due to inflammatory and allergic conditions (for example, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, hay fever, types of dermatitis, and many others. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, storage, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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Anemia is the condition of having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. The oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is, therefore, decreased. There are several types of anemia such as iron deficiency anemia (the most common type), sickle cell anemia, vitamin B12 anemia, pernicious anemia, and aplastic anemia. Symptoms of anemia may include fatigue, malaise, hair loss, palpitations, menstruation, and medications. Treatment for anemia includes treating the underlying cause for the condition. Iron supplements, vitamin B12 injections, and certain medications may also be necessary.
The word "rash" means an outbreak of red bumps on the body. The way people use this term, "a rash" can refer to many different skin conditions. The most common of these are scaly patches of skin and red, itchy bumps or patches all over the place.
Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
An upper respiratory infection is a contagious infection of the structures of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the sinuses, nasal passages, pharynx, and larynx. Common causes of an upper respiratory infection include bacteria and viruses such as rhinoviruses, group A streptococci, influenza, respiratory syncytial, whooping cough, diphtheria, and Epstein-Barr. Examples of symptoms of upper respiratory infection include sneezing, sore throat, cough, fever, and nasal congestion. Treatment of upper respiratory infections are based upon the cause. Generally, viral infections are treated symptomatically with over-the-counter (OTC) medication and home remedies.
Chronic Rhinitis and Post-Nasal Drip
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Buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint causes gouty arthritis. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, swelling, heat, and redness, typically of a single joint. Gout may be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication.
Steroid Drug Withdrawal
Corticosteroid drugs such as prednisone and prednisolone are commonly used to treat asthma, allergic reactions, RA, and IBD. Steroids such as these do have serious drawbacks such as steroid withdrawal symptoms such as: fatigue, weakness, decreased appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Speak with your health care provider prior to tapering off steroid medications.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Early RA signs and symptoms include anemia, both sides of the body affected (symmetric), depression, fatigue, fever, joint deformity, joint pain, joint redness, joint stiffness, joint swelling, joint tenderness, joint warmth, limping, loss of joint function, loss of joint range of motion, and polyarthritis.
Hives, also called urticaria, is a raised, itchy area of skin. Most often the cause of hives is unknown. Sometimes it is a sign of an allergic reaction to food or medications, but the cause of the allergy (the allergen) is unknown. Dermatographism and swelling (angioedema) may accompany hives. Treatment to get rid of hives and alleviate symptoms typically includes antihistamines.
Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood cells in which the growth and development of the blood cells are abnormal. Strictly speaking, leukemia should refer only to cancer of the white blood cells (the leukocytes) but in practice, it can apply to malignancy of any cellular element in the blood or bone marrow, as in red cell leukemia (erythroleukemia).
Is Tonsillitis Contagious?
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An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. When these allergens come in contact with the body, it causes the immune system to develop an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to it. It is estimated that 50 million North Americans are affected by allergic conditions. The parts of the body that are prone to react to allergies include the eyes, nose, lungs, skin, and stomach. Common allergic disorders include hay fever, asthma, allergic eyes, allergic eczema, hives, and allergic shock.
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
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Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways in the lung. Acute bronchitis is short in duration (10-20 days) in comparison with chronic bronchitis, which lasts for months to years. Causes of acute bronchitis include viruses and bacteria, which means it can be contagious. Acute bronchitis caused by environmental factors such as pollution or cigarette smoke is not contagious. Common symptoms for acute bronchitis include nasal congestion, cough, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue. Acute bronchitis in children also my include runny nose, fever, and chest pain. Treatment for acute bronchitis are OTC pain relievers, cough suppressants (although not recommended in children), and rest. Infrequently antibiotics may be prescribed to treat acute bronchitis.
There are several types of thyroid disorders including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiters, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer. Symptoms vary by condition. Diagnosis is made with blood tests, scans, ultrasound, or biopsy. Treatments depend on the disorder and can include medication or surgery.
Eczema refers to skin inflammation. There are many different types of eczema that produce symptoms and signs that range from oozing blisters to crusty plaques of skin. Treatment varies depending upon the type of eczema the person has.
Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Pain
Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain is a general term to reflect pain in the SI joints. Causes of SI joint pain include osteoarthritis, abnormal walking pattern, and disorders that can cause SI joint inflammation including gout, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Treatment includes oral medications, cortisone injections, and surgery.
Migraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on one side of the head, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known. Triggers for migraine headaches include certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, strong stimuli (loud noises), and oversleeping. Treatment guidelines for migraines include medicine, pain management, diet changes, avoiding foods that trigger migraines, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. Prevention of migraine triggers include getting regular exercise, drinking water daily, reducing stress, and avoiding trigger foods.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition. Symptoms and signs include a red, scaling rash on the scalp, face, ears, and torso. Treatment often includes the use of a medicated shampoo and the application of a topical steroid lotion.
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Eczema is a general term for many types dermatitis (skin inflammation). Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema. Other types of eczema include: contact eczema, allergic contact eczema, seborrheic eczema, nummular eczema, stasis dermatitis, and dyshidrotic eczema.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
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Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
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Polymyositis and Dermatomyositis
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Psoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes skin and joint inflammation. Symptoms and signs include painful, stiff, and swollen joints, tendinitis, and organ inflammation. Treatment involves anti-inflammatory medications and exercise.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle and can be caused by a variety of infections, conditions, and viruses. Symptoms of myocarditis include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and fluid accumulation in the lungs. Treatment mainly involves preventing heart failure with medication and diet, as well as monitoring for heart rhythm abnormalities.
Chronic bronchitis is a cough that occurs daily with production of sputum that lasts for at least 3 months, 2 years in a row. Causes of chronic bronchitis include cigarette smoking, inhaled irritants, and underlying disease processes (such as asthma, or congestive heart failure). Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Treatments include bronchodilators and steroids. Complications of chronic bronchitis include COPD and emphysema.
Is Eczema Contagious?
Eczema is a skin condition characterized by inflamed, rough skin patches that occasionally produce fluid-filled bumps that may ooze. There is no cure for eczema, though eczema may be treated with moisturization, eczema cream, and topical steroids.
Contact dermatitis is a rash that occurs after exposure to an irritant. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include a red, elevated rash at the site of contact with the irritating substance. Contact dermatitis treatment may involve creams, application of cool water compresses, and applying topical steroids.
Spinal Cord Injury: Treatments and Rehabilitation
When vertebrae are broken or dislocated, the result can cause traumatic injury to the spinal cord. A spinal cord injury can have significant physiological consequences. One indication of the severity of a spinal cord injury are respiratory complications. Spinal cord injuries are classified as either. Rehabilitation and recovery of a spinal cord injury is dependant upon the type of injury.
Vasculitis (arteritis, angiitis) is a general term for a group of uncommon diseases which feature inflammation of the blood vessels. Each form of vasculitis has its own characteristic pattern of symptoms. The diagnosis of vasculitis is definitively established after a biopsy of involved tissue demonstrates the pattern of blood vessel inflammation. Treatment is directed toward decreasing the inflammation of the arteries and improving the function of affected organs.
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss are common symptoms and signs.
Bell's Palsy (Facial Nerve Problems)
Bell's palsy is one type of facial nerve paralysis. The seventh cranial nerve controls the muscles of the face, and although scientists do not know the exact cause of Bell's palsy, they think it may be due to nerve damage from an infection, for example, the flu, common cold viruses, and more serious infections like meningitis. The symptoms of Bell's palsy vary from person to person, but can include mild weakness to total paralysis, dry eye, dry mouth, eyelid drooping, drooling, mouth drooping, dry mouth, changes in taste, and excessive tearing in one eye.
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a disorder of the muscles and joints that causes pain and stiffness in the arms, neck, shoulders, and buttocks. Treatment for polymyalgia rheumatica aims to reduce inflammation with aspirin, ibuprofen, and low doses of cortisone medications.
Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD)
Connective tissue diseases are disorders featuring abnormalities involving the collagen and elastin. Connective tissue diseases that are strictly inheritable include Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The classic immune-related connective tissue diseases include systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, polymyositis, and dermatomyositis. Treatment is often directed at suppressing the inflammation present in the tissues by using anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive medications.
Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis)
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is an irritation of the nose caused by pollen and is associated with the following allergic symptoms: nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, eye and nose itching, and tearing eyes. Avoidance of known allergens is the recommended treatment, but if this is not possible, antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays may help alleviate symptoms.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1, CRPS)
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD) is a condition that features atypical symptoms including pain (often "burning" type), tenderness, and swelling of an extremity associated with varying degrees of sweating, warmth and/or coolness, flushing, discoloration, and shiny skin. RSD is also referred to as "the shoulder-hand syndrome." Treatment response is greater in earlier stages than later stages.
Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (HSP)
Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP or anaphylactoid purpura), a type of blood vessel inflammation, results in rash, arthritis, and occasional abdominal cramping. HSP often resolves on its own. Joint pain may be treated with anti-inflammatory and cortisone medications.
Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac
Poison ivy, oak, and sumac contain a substance called urushiol, which causes a rash on people who come in contact with them. Symptoms and signs include a red, swollen, itchy, blistering, bumpy rash. Treatment involves rinsing the exposed area with water, taking antihistamines and over-the-counter pain medications, using topical treatments such as calamine lotion, and applying cool compresses.
There are two types of asthma medications: long-term control with anti-inflammatory drugs and quick relief from bronchodilators. Asthma medicines may be inhaled using a metered-dose inhaler or nebulizer or they may be taken orally. People with high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, or heart disease shouldn't take OTC asthma drugs like Primatene Mist and Bronkaid.
What Is West Syndrome?
West Syndrome is a rare condition that affects infants and children with three distinct characteristics: 1) abnormal brain waves on EEG, 2) infantile spasms (jackknife seizures), and 3) mental retardation. West syndrome characteristics appear between age 3 and 12 months. West syndrome is caused or associated with severe brain damage at birth, tuberosis sclerosis, and prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal disorders. There is no treatment or cure for West syndrome. Symptoms and signs of West syndrome may be managed with medication. The prognosis and life expectancy for an individual with West syndrome varies depending upon the cause and severity of signs and symptoms.
Relapsing polychondritis is an uncommon, chronic disorder of the cartilage that is characterized by recurrent episodes of inflammation of the cartilage of various tissues of the body. Tissues containing cartilage that can become inflamed include the ears, nose, joints, spine, and windpipe (trachea). Tissues that have a biochemical makeup similar to that of cartilage such as the eyes, heart, and blood vessels, can also be affected. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) is used as treatment for mild cases of the disease. Steroid-related medications also are usually required.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is an infection of a facial nerve that causes a red painful rash with blisters and facial paralysis. Other symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome may include ear pain, hearing loss, dizziness (or vertigo), dry eye, and changes in taste sensation. The herpes zoster virus causes the infection.
Microscopic Colitis (Lymphocytic Colitis and Collagenous Colitis)
Microscopic colitis (lymphocytic colitis and collagenous colitis) is a disease of inflammation of the colon. Microscopic colitis is only visible when the colon's lining is examined under a microscope. The cause of microscopic colitis is not known. Symptoms of microscopic colitis are chronic watery diarrhea and abdominal pain or cramps.
Erythema nodosum is a skin inflammation that results in reddish, painful, tender lumps most commonly located in the front of the legs below the knees. Erythema nodosum can resolve on its own in three to six weeks, leaving a bruised area. Treatments include anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone by mouth or injection.
Still's disease is a disorder characterized by inflammation with high fever spikes, fatigue, salmon-colored rash, and/or arthritis. Though there have been several theories regarding the cause(s) of Still's disease, the cause is not yet known. Many symptoms of Still's disease are often treatable with anti-inflammatory drugs.
Polyarteritis nodosa is a rare autoimmune disease characterized by spontaneous inflammation of the arteries of the body. The most common areas of involvement include the muscles, joints, intestines (bowels), nerves, kidneys, and skin. Poor function or pain in any of these organs can be a symptom. Polyarteritis nodosa is most common in middle age persons. Polyarteritis is a serious illness that can be fatal. Treatment is focused on decreasing the inflammation of the arteries by suppressing the immune system.
What Is Eosinophilic Fasciitis (Shulman's Syndrome)?
Eosinophilic fasciitis is a skin disease that causes thickening and inflammation of the skin and fascia. Symptoms include redness, warmth, and hardening of the skin, as well as occasional tissue and joint pain. Treatment for eosinophilic fasciitis aims to eliminate inflammation through the use of aspirin, NSAIDs, and cortisone.
Bullous pemphigoid is a skin disease that causes blistering eruptions on the skin's surface and sometimes affects the inner lining of the mouth. Symptoms include severe itching and burning sensations. Treatment involves topical cortisone and sometimes high doses of cortisone. Severe cases may require immune-suppression drugs such as azathioprine.
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC) Treatment
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is thought to be an autoimmune disorder that involves the deterioration of the liver's small bile ducts. These ducts are crucial to transport bile to the small intestine, digesting fats and removing wastes. Symptoms of PBC are edema, itching, elevated cholesterol, malabsorption of fat, liver cancer, gallstones, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and hypothyroidism. Treatments include ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA); colchicine (Colcrys); and immunosuppressive medications, such as corticosteroids; obeticholic acid (Ocaliva); and medications that treat PBC symptoms. For PBC that is associated with cirrhosis of the liver, liver transplantation may be indicated in extreme cases.
Insect Sting Allergies
The majority of stinging insects in the United States are from bees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and fire ants. Severity of reactions to stings varies greatly. Avoidance and prompt treatment are essential. In selected cases, allergy injection therapy is highly effective.
Granulomatosis With Polyangiitis
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis is a condition that usually affects young or middle-aged adults, is an inflammation of the arteries supplying blood to the sinuses, lungs, and kidneys. Symptoms of granulomatosis with polyangiitis include bloody sputum, fatigue, weight loss, joint pain, sinusitis, shortness of breath, and fever. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis may be fatal within months without treatment. Treatment aims to stop inflammation with high doses of prednisone and cyclophosphamide.
Churg-Strauss Syndrome is a form of vasculitis. Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels. Symptoms of Churg-Strauss syndrome include fatigue, weight loss, inflammation of the nasal passages, numbness, and weakness. Treatment is directed toward both quieting the vasculitis and suppressing the immune system.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA)
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) annually affects one child in every thousand. There are six types of JRA. Treatment of juvenile arthritis depends upon the type the child has and should focus on treating the symptoms that manifest.
Takayasu disease (also referred to as Takayasu arteritis) is a chronic inflammation of the aorta and its branch arteries. Takayasu disease is most common in women of Asian descent and usually begins between 10-30 years of age. Symptoms include painful extremities, dizziness, headaches, chest and abdominal pain, and a low-grade fever. Treatment for Takayasu disease includes cortisone medication to suppress the inflammation.
Latex allergy is a condition where the body reacts to latex, a natural product derived from the rubber tree. The reaction can either be delayed and cause a skin rash or immediate, which can lead to anaphylaxis. Avoiding latex is the most effective way to prevent an allergic reaction.
Essential Mixed Cryoglobulinemia
Essential mixed cryoglobulinemia is a condition caused by abnormal blood proteins called cryoglobulins. Symptoms include joint pain, swelling, skin vasculitis, enlarged spleen, and nerve and kidney disease. Treatment involves medications that reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Buttock Pain
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