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Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids usually provide quick assistance from gout symptoms and pain. Corticosteroids reduce the pain, puffiness, redness, and inflammation of gout.  Common corticosteroids include Decadron, Cortef, Medrol, Kenalog, and Prednisone. For the fastest relief from gout pain an injection of corticosteroids into the affected joint is the best bet.

Corticosteroids have short term and long-term side effects. The most common short-term side effects include mood swings, nervousness, insomnia, weight gain, fluid retention, rounded face, poor wound healing, and an increased risk of infection, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Some uncommon short-term side effects include muscle weakness, glaucoma, stomach ulcers, and acne.

Long-term uncommon side effects include osteoporosis, cataracts, and damage to the hip, shoulder, or knee joints. Long-term use of any corticosteroids can weaken the immune system. Because of these side effects, corticosteroids are on average used for short periods of time.

Corticosteroids should not be used with patients with bacterial arthritis, high blood pressure, joint infections; patients with diabetes may need a change in blood sugar medications while taking corticosteroids.

Corticosteroids are given 3 different ways, either orally, injection directly into the infected joint, or injection into the vein.  Typically, an intravenous injection is only used when more than one joints is concerned. The most effective way to use corticosteroids is a direct injection to the affected joint. Usually corticosteroids are only given to patients who cannot take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or colchicine.  The dose of oral corticosteroids is slowly reduced over a number of days and as long as 2 weeks until symptoms are gone.

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