The use of low-dose prednisone in the management of rheumatoid arthritis

Bull Rheum Dis. 2001;50(12):1-4.


Low doses of prednisone are safe and effective in the management of RA. Yet, some clinicians continue to manage their RA patients with glucocorticoid doses that are too high or avoid them altogether. Glucocorticoids in low doses have proven to be very effective in suppressing the inflammation associated with RA. In addition, there is good evidence that low doses of prednisolone retard bony erosions of RA. Potential side effects of low doses of glucocorticoids can be anticipated and avoided with prudent preventative measures and appropriate management. Therefore, prednisone should be initiated as early as possible in the treatment of RA usually with another DMARD. Treatment of the inflammation in RA should not exceed 10 mg/day and often may need to be given in daily divided doses (5 mg BID). Supplemental daily calcium at 800-1,000 mg/day and vitamin D at 400-800 units/day should always be initiated with treatment. Tapering of prednisone should be done slowly using 1 mg decrements every couple weeks to a month. One should not deem it a failure to hold the patient on the lowest effective dose of prednisone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage*
  • Prednisone / adverse effects*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Prednisone