Prednisone for arthritis (Lodotra)

1019 Users are discussing this topic

Prednisone belongs to a class of medicines known as corticosteroids (more commonly called steroids).

Your pharmacist will give you a blue 'Steroid Treatment Card'. Carry this with you at all times.

If you need any medical treatment, make sure the person treating you knows you are taking prednisone. This is because your dose may need to be increased for a short while.

Type of medicineCorticosteroid
Used forRheumatoid arthritis
Also calledLodotra®
Available asModified-release tablets

Prednisone belongs to a group of medicines called corticosteroids. It is sometimes referred to simply as an oral steroid.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes inflammation, pain, and swelling of joints. Corticosteroids like prednisone are good at reducing inflammation. By doing this, prednisone reduces the swelling and stiffness in the joints affected by RA. This also helps to ease the pain.

Lodotra® tablets are best taken at bedtime. The tablets are specially made to start releasing the medicine about four hours after taking. This helps them to work while you are asleep and reduces the joint stiffness you feel in the morning.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking prednisone it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have high blood pressure.
  • If you have had a heart attack or have any other heart problems.
  • If you have liver or kidney problems.
  • If you or anyone in your family has high blood sugar (diabetes mellitus) or increased eye pressure (glaucoma).
  • If you have weakened bones (osteoporosis).
  • If you have an underactive thyroid.
  • If you have ever had a mental health problem - for example, depression.
  • If you have epilepsy.
  • If you have had a stomach ulcer or an inflammatory bowel disorder.
  • If you have any kind of infection, or if you have ever had tuberculosis (TB).
  • If you (or anyone you are in close contact with) have recently had chickenpox, measles or shingles.
  • If you have ever had a blood clot in an artery or vein.
  • If you have a condition causing muscle weakness, called myasthenia gravis.
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine, or if you have ever developed muscle pain after taking a steroid medicine.
  • Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack and be careful to follow any printed instructions you have also been given. The leaflet will give you more information about prednisone and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • You should take Lodotra® tablets at bedtime (about 10 pm). They start to work while you are asleep to help reduce the joint stiffness you feel in the morning. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how many tablets to take, as your dose will be adjusted to suit you. Lodotra® tablets are available in three different strengths - 1 mg, 2 mg, and 5 mg, so you may be asked to take more than one strength of tablet. It is important that you take prednisone exactly as your doctor tells you to.
  • It is important that you take the tablets after a meal or a snack, otherwise they will not release all of the medicine. If more than 2-3 hours have passed since eating your evening meal, then take the tablets with a snack, such as a slice of bread with some ham or cheese.
  • Swallow the tablets whole. Do not crush, chew, or break them, as this will interfere with the way they work.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following evening, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Continue to take prednisone tablets regularly each evening until your doctor tells you otherwise. You may need to take them for several months, or even longer. Stopping suddenly can cause problems and your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually if this is necessary.
  • You will be given a 'Steroid Treatment Card' which says that you are on steroids and contains some important advice for you. It is important that you read this card and carry it with you at all times. It also contains details about your dose, how long you have been taking prednisone for, and who prescribed it for you. Please make sure that this information is kept up-to-date. If you are having an operation or dental treatment or any treatment for an injury, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking prednisone and show them your treatment card.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. Your doctor will want you to have tests from time to time to make sure you remain free from some of the unwanted side-effects of treatment.
  • Prednisone may suppress your immune system, so it is important if you become ill that you make an appointment to see your doctor straightaway. Also, if you come into contact with anyone who has measles, shingles or chickenpox (or anyone who suspects they might have them), you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Some vaccines may not be suitable for you while you are being treated with prednisone. If you need any immunisations, make sure you mention that you are taking a steroid.
  • If you need to buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with your other medicines.

Along with its useful effects, prednisone can cause unwanted side-effects which your doctor will discuss with you. The benefits of taking prednisone usually outweigh the side-effects; however, they can sometimes be troublesome. Although not everyone experiences side-effects, and some will improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you become concerned about any of the following:

Common prednisone side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
Fluid retention causing swollen feet and anklesWhenever possible, sit with your feet up
HeadacheAsk your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Feeling tiredIf this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines until you feel more awake
Muscle weaknessIf this continues or gets worse, speak with your doctor
Difficulties sleeping, increased weightIf these become troublesome, speak with your doctor
Long-term treatment with prednisone may cause other unwanted effectsIf you have any symptoms which cause you concern, you should arrange to see your doctor for advice

For more information about side-effects which are possible when prednisone is taken long-term, see the separate condition leaflet called Oral Steroids

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Mr Michael Stewart
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Document ID:
28531 (v2)
Last Checked:
27/07/2016
Next Review:
27/07/2019
The Information Standard - certified member

Did you find this health information useful?

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback!

Subcribe to the Patient newsletter for healthcare and news updates.

We would love to hear your feedback!

 
 
Patient Access app - find out more Patient facebook page - Like our page