When I was first hit with Chronic Pain (Story Here), prednisone turned out to be my best friend. It was amazing stuff that removed all my pain. I had not felt that great in a long time. I didn’t even experience any side effects while taking the medication. But ten years later, I have some warnings to share with you. I hope you will take heed of them because as I learned, your doctors aren’t going to warn you or even express concern.
Reminder: I am a patient, not a doctor. What I am sharing comes largely from what my doctors taught me and what I have discovered in my own searching.
I am sharing to hopefully help you be informed enough to support friends with this syndrome or possibly acquire informed questions for your doctor. Please talk with your doctor or visit the Mayo Clinic website for official information, diagnosis, and treatment.Mandy
I have struggled with weight my entire life. Up and Down. Up and Down. It’s the story of my life. But I had finally learned to lose and manage my weight until chronic pain arrived. My doctor gave me prednisone to reduce inflammation. Immediately, I began to gain back my weight. Yes, there were other reasons; like, I was no longer fixing my own food and was getting very little exercise. But in the long run, even once I was up and about, I could not lose the weight
Hard to Stop
The first RX was one of those titration packs where you reduce the amount each day. But when I began reducing, the pain returned. So I ended up on 40mgs of prednisone to keep the pain at bay. Unfortunately, I had a difficult time getting off because the pain would keep returning. After I got an actual diagnosis and could be treated, we began again to reduce the amount I was taking. The first 20mgs weren’t hard. But then my knees began to swell and be painful. After the knee issue was resolved, I could only reduce the steroid by 1 mg at a time and then stay there for a month or so. When I got to 5mg, it was impossible to reduce anymore because of pain. In total, I remained on prednisone at some level for 10 years. Finally, this past March 2011, I forced myself to reduce my way completely off.
Adrenal Gland Problems
After a few months, I headed to my endocrinologist to check on my thyroid. She decided we needed to do some adrenal testing to make sure they were functioning correctly after having been on the steroid for so long. Long-Term steroid use can cause Adrenal gland problems; such as blurred vision, dizziness or fainting, a fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat, increased thirst or urination, irritability, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
Steroid use can cause your immunity to weaken. In retrospect, I did have a lot of infections. If you are regularly taking prednisone, ASK YOUR DOCTOR FIRST, if you should receive any vaccinations.
Mood or behavior changes
You have probably heard about athletes that take steroids can have mood changes or behavior problems. Fortunately, I was not affected by this one.
This is a big one for me. I just recently learned that I have osteoporosis. A few years ago, I saw on an insurance brochure that I should possibly have a DXA bone scan done. I didn’t pursue this because I wasn’t 65. But a finally asked my rheumatologist about it and he was adamant that I should get one. I wasn’t too concerned; after all, I am a dairy farmer’s daughter and I love my dairy products. But the results were alarming and I am now at high risk for fracture, especially my hip.
What bothers me most is that with a whole team of doctors, no one bothered to say, “Take some extra calcium supplements.” even though my husband and I expressed our concerns several times. Maybe it was because I was taking my one a day and getting some extra calcium there. I don’t know.But here I am with swiss cheese for bones. And facing treatments that scare the "you know what" out of me. #prednisone #longtermuseofprednisone Click To Tweet
I’m telling you this as a precaution. Do your own research and talk with your doctor before you decide to stay on this drug long-term.
Pastor’s Wife (retired) & Chronic Pain Warrior blogs about how to make it through anything by relating her own life experiences to her writing. She is passionate about her love for the Lord and desires to spread that passion to others. She has a great desire to encourage women who are following behind her.