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Corticosteroids for Pain

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What they are: Corticosteroids are medications that reduce inflammation in the body. They are not the same as the anabolic steroids that some athletes and body builders use.

Examples include: Decadron (chemical name: dexamethasone), prednisone

What they're used for: Corticosteroids are used to reduce swelling and pain caused by cancer that has traveled to other parts of the body, such as the bones, spinal cord, or brain. They also may be given with certain chemotherapy medications to control nausea and vomiting.

How they're taken: Corticosteroids are usually taken by mouth, but sometimes by injection or intravenously — especially if given along with chemotherapy.

Possible side effects include:

  • swelling of the hands, feet, or limbs
  • increased blood sugar
  • stomach irritation
  • confusion
  • changes in behavior
  • trouble sleeping

Cortocosteroids are not right for everyone who experiences pain, so be sure to talk with your doctor about your unique situation, symptoms, and needs.


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