Glucocorticosteroids in the management of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatology (Oxford). 1999 Jan;38(1):6-12. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/38.1.6.


Glucocorticosteroids are used frequently in the management of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Data supporting their efficacy and safety are still meagre. Glucocorticosteroids may be used systemically with different routes of administration (oral, i.m. and i.v.), in different doses and for different periods of time. The effectiveness of glucocorticosteroids in reducing inflammation in the short term has been shown for oral treatment in a dose of 7.5 mg prednisolone daily or more, for i.m. pulses (120 mg methylprednisolone every 4 weeks) and for i.v. methylprednisolone pulses. For longer periods of treatment, the evidence suggesting effectiveness of low-dose oral glucocorticosteroids is more limited. Some data suggest that different regimens of glucocorticosteroids may retard the development of erosions in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The toxicity of short-term treatment is relatively low. For long-term treatment, the development of osteoporosis is a serious problem. Concomitant therapy with either calcitriol or bisphosphonates may reduce this risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Joints / drug effects
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use*
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Prednisolone
  • Methylprednisolone