Corticosteroids such as Prednisone are used in inflammatory conditions for their anti-inflammatory effects. When used properly, these drugs save lives and avert injury to bodily organs. They have a rapid onset of action, and profoundly affect many parts of the immune system as well as most other body systems. Corticosteroids are used to treat a variety of conditions such as vasculitis; arthritis; skin, blood, kidney, eye, thyroid, and intestinal disorders such as colitis; severe allergies and asthma; and to relieve inflammation (swelling, and pain). Prednisone is also used with other drugs to prevent rejection of transplanted organs and to treat certain types of cancer. Side effects of steroids are related to the amount of steroid a patient takes and the length of time the patient remains on the medication. One major side effect is osteoporosis or “thinning of the bone”.
While steroids do decrease inflammation, they also decrease the formation of new bone, increase the breakdown of old bone, and decrease the absorption of calcium from food by the body. This can lead to osteoporosis ( “thinning” of the bone) and susceptibility to fractures. Osteoporosis may result in fractures of the spine, ribs or hip joint with minimal trauma.
Prednisone should be taken exactly as prescribed by the doctor. Studies have shown that physicians are not investigating and treating glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. See Shinil, Shah study cited in the Journal of American Osteopathic Association, Vol. 106, No. 11, November 2006.