Treating AS - Taking control

Corticosteroids are medications that act like a naturally occurring hormone in the body that's involved in inflammatory and immune responses. Corticosteroids can be used to relieve the pain in joints affected by ankylosing spondylitis (AS). They work by decreasing inflammation and suppressing the immune system. Corticosteroids are usually used when there is acute pain or a flare-up of AS symptoms.

Corticosteroids for treating AS include methylprednisolone and cortisone.

Methylprednisolone acetate (Depo-Medrol®)

  • What does it do? Depo-Medrol® reduces the inflammation associated with ankylosing spondylitis.
  • How do I use it? Depo-Medrol® is usually given by injection by a health care provider into joints (other than the spine) affected by AS. If necessary, a second injection may be used 1 to 5 weeks later.

Cortisone acetate (Cortisone®)

  • What does it do? Cortisone® helps AS symptoms by reducing inflammation.
  • How do I use it? Cortisone® is taken by mouth (orally) each day.

Corticosteroids are usually given on a short-term basis to relieve symptoms during flares.

When corticosteroids are injected, they may cause skin changes or pain at the injection site. Side effects of corticosteroids (injected or taken orally) such as thinning of bones (osteoporosis), weight gain, diabetes, and fluid retention can occur with long-term use of corticosteroids. Serious side effects include new infections, masking the signs of infection, growth suppression in children, and, over prolonged use, eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma.

If you will be using corticosteroids over the long term, your doctor may recommend regular checkup appointments and lab tests.

Talk to your doctor for more information on treating AS with corticosteroids.