I Have Ra. Can I Take Just 3 Mg Prednisone Daily For A Long Period Of Time W/o Negative Effects?

Question

Asked by b henry

I Have Ra. Can I Take Just 3 Mg Prednisone Daily For A Long Period Of Time W/o Negative Effects?

I am 51 years old, in good shape and healthy except being diagnosed about 5 years ago with RA. I'm on Methotrexate weekly. The only med that seems to help my daily symptoms is Prednisone. I was weaned off multiple times but the pain would come back.
Please tell me if there is evidence that being on a very small dose (3mg) daily of Prednisone for years would have any negative effects. I've asked many doctors who just seem to have the standard answer that "no one should be on long-term steroids."

Answer

Whether you're taking prednisone, methotrexate or the Biologics, there are possible risks involved in treatment for the disease and you have to consider the pros and cons. Yes, ideally people shouldn't be taking steroids, but if it's helping you live your life and protecting you against joint damage, it may be worth the risk. I've heard many users here on this site say that they are on a number of medications, including prednisone on a permanent basis, so it depends on your doctor and you which road you end up taking.

I would recommend that you talk to your rheumatologist about your concerns so you can have an in-depth conversation about the risks and benefits of your current medication. You may also want to discuss alternate therapies - are you on any medication other than prednisone? Have you tried some of the other DMARDs (disease modifying antirheumatic drugs like methotrexate, Arava, the Biologics)? If no, maybe it would be worth considering, as well. That said, in my experience, for some people, a low dose of steroids can help the DMARDs go from working well to working great, for others, the DMARDs are enough.

Answered by Lene Andersen, MSW