Corticosteroids for Gout

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Corticosteroids for Gout

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
dexamethasone 
hydrocortisoneCortef
methylprednisoloneMedrol
prednisone 
triamcinoloneKenalog

Depending on the drug, steroids may be given intravenously, as pills, or as an injection.

How It Works

Corticosteroids decrease the pain, swelling, redness, and warmth (inflammation) of gout.

Why It Is Used

Corticosteroids may be used for:

  • Gout attacks that are limited to a single joint.
  • Gout attacks that do not respond to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or colchicine.
  • People who cannot take NSAIDs or colchicine, such as those with kidney disease or a history of serious ulcer disease and gastrointestinal bleeding. Corticosteroids may also be used by people who have congestive heart failure or take the blood-thinner warfarin or by people who are allergic to ASA.

Corticosteroids should not be given to people who have a joint infection.

How Well It Works

Corticosteroids usually provide rapid relief from gout symptoms.2 Because of their potential side effects if used for a long time, corticosteroids are usually prescribed only for a short time.1

Side Effects

Common short-term side effects include:

Uncommon short-term side effects include:

Long-term side effects include:

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

  • Corticosteroids are most often used in people who are unable to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or colchicine. If only one joint is affected, injection of corticosteroids into the joint may be most effective. If multiple joints are involved, corticosteroids may be injected into a vein or muscle or taken by mouth in pill form, in gradually decreasing doses.
  • Corticosteroids should not be used when bacterial arthritis is present.
  • People with high blood pressure should monitor their pressure while they are using corticosteroids.
  • People with diabetes may need more medicine or insulin when they are using corticosteroids to treat their gout.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Rott KT, Agudelo CA (2003). Gout. JAMA, 289(21): 2857–2860.
  2. Terkeltaub R (2008). Gout and hyperuricemia section of Crystal deposition diseases. In L Goldman, D Ausiello, eds., Cecil Medicine, 23rd ed., pp. 2069–2075. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised August 16, 2010

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