Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Arthritis health centre

Steroids

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Steroids are drugs that are often used to reduce inflammation. They're similar to chemicals your body produces naturally. They aren't the same as the steroids sometimes used by bodybuilders. The full name for steroids used as medicines is corticosteroids.

If you can't take NSAIDs or colchicine because of side effects, your doctor may prescribe a short course of steroid tablets. Or you might have a steroid injection into the inflamed joint to relieve the pain.

If you take steroids for only a short time, you may get fewer side effects than you would from some drug treatments for gout. [43] One small study (a randomised controlled trial) of 90 people found that a steroid called prednisolone reduced pain as well as an NSAID called indometacin but with fewer side effects. [24] But this study was too small to be entirely reliable. We couldn't find any other studies that looked at steroid treatment for an attack of gout.

About 1 in 20 people find that steroid tablets affect their mood. [44] You may be irritable, anxious, confused, or have trouble sleeping. Or you can get an unusually high mood (euphoria). Rarely, people get more serious side effects, such as thinking about suicide or seeing things that aren't really there. It's also possible to get these side effects when you stop taking steroids.

Your doctor should explain the benefits and risks of steroids before you start taking them. If you get any worrying symptoms while you're taking steroids, see your doctor straight away.

If you take higher doses of steroids or take them for a long time, you can get serious side effects. These are very rare with the short courses of treatment that your doctor may recommend for an attack of gout. For more information about the side effects of higher doses of steroids, see Steroids and side effects.

Glossary

randomised controlled trials

Randomised controlled trials are medical studies designed to test whether a treatment works. Patients are split into groups. One group is given the treatment being tested (for example, an antidepressant drug) while another group (called the comparison or control group) is given an alternative treatment. This could be a different type of drug or a dummy treatment (a placebo). Researchers then compare the effects of the different treatments.

For more terms related to Gout

Citations

For references related to Gout click here.
Last Updated: June 20, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

Stay informed

Sign up for BootsWebMD's free newsletters.
Sign Up Now!

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) facts

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) facts

Learn how to manage stiffness and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis.

Popular Slideshows & Tools on Boots WebMD

woman looking at pregnancy test
Early pregnancy symptoms
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
womans toned abdomen
A workout for a toned tummy
79x79_less_is_more_with_exercise.jpg
Which exercises are safe?
hand extinguishing cigarette
13 best tips to stop smoking
Immune-boosting foods
The role of diet
79x79_not_good_for_you.jpg
18 secrets men want you to know
boy looking at broccoli
Quick tips for feeding picky eaters
hamburger and fries
A guide for beginners
salmon dinner
A diet to boost your mood & energy
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting