Past Articles

Steroids Increase Risk Of Spinal Problems

Findings published in the October 23rd issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine say that men and women older than 60 who take corticosteroids for longer than six months are at greatly increased risk of deformities of the bones in the spine. Corticosteroid drugs are commonly used to treat chronic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and have been known to increase osteoporosis risk.
The researchers studied 229 patients who had taken corticosteroids for longer than six months and 286 people the same age who did not take the drugs. Patients aged 70 to 79 had five times the risk of vertebral fractures compared with their counterparts who were younger than 60. Also, patients with vertebral deformities had taken corticosteroids for a longer time period than patients who did not have the deformities.
The investigators found that loss of bone density alone, however, could not account for the increase in vertebral deformities in these patients. Patients concerned with corticosteroid use should consult with their medical doctor first to determine if this is the proper course of treatment for their condition.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine. October 23, 2000.