PREDNISONE/Joint-Bone Issues

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 8/28/2008 4:00 PM (GMT -6)   
Does anyone have first hand knowledge of prednisone side-effects - specifically joint/bone issues? That is my main concern - the long term damage if I continue to take it during flares. I have allergy issues with all the sulfa stuff and 150 mg of imuran a day didn't keep me from getting flares. I was on that for 15 months and got 2 bad flares anyway that I had to take steroids for. So I stopped the imuran, had 3 blissful symptom free months, then injured my back and had to take ibuprofen for 2 days and that started a flare. So, I'm considering the jpouch surgery so I can stop the prednisone. Otherwise, I fear I might be facing hip, knee, shoulder replacement surgery because of the damage. I would rather have one surgery - not 6. Anyhoo, any first hand knowledge about this stuff or thoughts on it would be appreciated as I weigh out this rather difficult decision.

Elite Member

Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 10407
   Posted 8/28/2008 5:33 PM (GMT -6)   
I was on prednisone off and on (about 60% of the time on) for a year, then on Entocort (which is "supposed" to not be systemically absorbed) for four years. I had a pathological fracture of both of the bones in my lower leg, requiring pretty extensive surgery to repair. I developed type II diabetes. I also got a condition called avascular necrosis in my right shoulder. In this condition, the blood supply to a bone is interrupted and the bone begins to die. In my case, it developed in the end of the long bone in my upper arm. It is progressive and extremely painful, and mine was halted only after two surgeries and a partial shoulder replacement.

Remicade currently is maintaining me in remission, and I've been off all steroids since February 2006. I won't even use a steroid nasal spray for my allergies! I would have surgery rather than take steroids again if it comes to that.
Judy - Southern US 
Moderate to severe left-sided UC (21 cm) diagnosed 2001.
Avascular necrosis in both shoulders is my "forever" gift from Entocort.
Colazal,  Remicade, Nature's Way Primadophilus Reuteri. In remission since April, 2006.
Co-Moderator UC Forum
Please remember to consult your health care provider when making health-related decisions.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 5698
   Posted 8/28/2008 5:40 PM (GMT -6)   

I don't know anything about the damage but I did opt for jpouch surgery 7 years ago because I began fearing the long term side effects of steroids more than I feared surgery.  Along with bone issues prednisone can also affect the eyes so be sure to have annual eye exams and let your optometrist know of your pred history.  As a former pred user I urge you to find other options to pred if you flare again.  I was fortunate to have zero pred side effects after 2.5 years of consistent use; others aren't as lucky.


dx proctitis in 1987
dx UC in 1991, was stable until 1998

1998 started prednisone, asacol, pentasa, nortriptylene, ativan, 6MP, rowasa enemas and suppositories, hydrocortisone enemas, tried the SCD diet, being a vegetarian, omega 3s, flax, pranic healing, yoga, acupuncture, probiotics

2000 lost all my B-12 stores and became anemic

2001 opted for j-pouch surgery- now living life med-free

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 1366
   Posted 8/28/2008 5:50 PM (GMT -6)   
When I was diagnosed with UC, I was put on prednisone right away. I became steroid dependent almost instantly and was never able to be off prednisone for more than a month without flaring. So for the first two or three years, it was on for one/two months, off for one month and then back on. Four years later at age 19 I had a bone density scan which showed that I have osteopenia in my lumbar spine and femur neck. If you ask me, 19 is much to young to already be developing osteoporosis!! I've been on it several times since and it no longer really works for me, but I haven't had a follow up scan to see if there has been increased damage, which I'm sure there has. I frequently have joint pain and weakness nowadays, especially when I'm flaring.

In addition to that, I used to have perfect vision and then a year ago I had an eye exam and discovered I badly needed glasses, and my eyesight has already worsened since then.

Needless to say... I hate prednisone and will do anything to stay off it now.

Female, 23, Ulcerative colitis (pancolitis) for 8 years so far; GERD; gastritis; osteopenia in femur head & lumbar spine from long term prednisone use....

Current Meds:
Lexapro 10mg, Lialda 2 pills a day, Rowasa enemas nightly


Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 213
   Posted 8/28/2008 6:28 PM (GMT -6)   
Yep it causes joint pain as well as reduces your calcium and can thin your bones. Most docs do not follow up. A good thing to do is take extra calcium and vitamin D, and also potassium. Most docs don't replenish that potassium and you do need it. I just left the hospital for 8 days and they had to put me on a potassium drip for it. Take care of yourself - remember the Prednisone should only be used for short term and usually its benefits outweigh its side efffects.
34 year old female, Diagnosed Ulcerative Colitis 5 years ago
Current Meds: Remicade every 6 weeks, Prevacid, Sustenex, Lialda, Lexapro (anxiety), Synthroid, Iron, vitamins, Fish Oil

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 2855
   Posted 8/28/2008 8:58 PM (GMT -6)   
I have taken prednisone on and off for more than 20 years, generally no more than a few months at a time. Side effects I experienced when on it were thumping heart, weird hand and feet muscle cramps (potassium deficiency), moon face and paper skin, ravenous hunger, sleeplessness, etc...but all clears up when I go off it. I get blood screening for kidney damage as well as bone density testing, including again just recently, and am A-OK. I do strength training, and it helps I hope.
So I suggest bone density testing to get some info & peace of mind before deciding on surgery for that reason.
49 year old female, diagnosed UC/pancolitis 1985, no surgery but much suffering.
Asacol/5ASA maintenance for 20+ years, usually 3 pills 2x day. 
Currently tapering off presnisone from lingering flare;
August 2008 sought care of naturopathic doctor. Tested gluten intolerant and started gluten-free, soy-free, etc. diet which resolved flare. Also Replete probiotic, DGL (licorice root, slippery elm), Permeability Factors. Slow-release iron and B-12 shots for severe anemia.

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