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How Does Solu-Medrol Work?

By Jason Dority ; Updated August 14, 2017

Corticosteroids refer to a group of synthetic or man-made drugs consisting of cortisone, prednisone and methylprednisolone. They mimic the actions of cortisol—a naturally occurring steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Solu-Medrol is one type of corticosteroid medication used in a variety of situations for a variety of different medical conditions to control inflammation.

Indications

Solu-Medrol, the brand name for the medication methylprednisolone sodium succinate, is prescribed to treat a variety of medical conditions. It’s an anti-inflammatory agent designed to weaken the body’s response to certain stressors and conditions. It is used to treat, but not cure, severe allergic reactions, blood diseases, arthritis, respiratory disease and eye diseases, certain cancers and skin conditions, according to Rxlist.com.

Mechanism of Action

Methylprednisolone, the active ingredient in Solu-Medrol, is a corticosteroid that is similar in nature to natural hormones produced by the adrenal glands in the body. Solu-Medrol’s primary action is to reduce swelling and the body’s natural immune system response. It works by binding DNA in the cells of the body and regulating the expression of certain genes. This increases the body’s production of certain proteins and enzymes that inhibit the action of inflammatory cells. It also decreases the permeability of blood vessels to prevent the migration of inflammatory cells to the site of injury.

Side Effects

Taking Solu-Medrol can cause side effects. The most common and less severe side effects include an upset stomach, headache and dizziness, increased appetite and weight gain, menstruation changes and sleep disturbances, according to Drugs.com. Pain, swelling and redness may also occur at the injection site. Call a doctor immediately if any of the following serious side effects occur, such as bone and joint pain, black stools, coffee grounds-like vomit, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath and seizures.

Dosage and Administration

Solu-Medrol is a prescription medication that is administered by intravenous or intramuscular injection—injections into veins or muscles, respectively. It is available in single or multi-dose packages of varying dose strengths. Injections of the medication are most often administered slowly over a period of at least 30 minutes and the dosage is dependent on the medical condition being treated and the patient’s response to the treatment, according to Drugs.com. Although most often administered by a healthcare professional in a hospital setting, individuals are sometimes required to learn proper preparation and injection techniques for at-home injections. Individuals being taken off the medication after having taken it for several days must gradually reduce their dose over time to decrease the occurrence of nausea, weakness and weight loss.

Benefits

Inflammation can be damaging to the body and even life-threatening. Under normal conditions, the body uses an inflammatory response as protection against foreign invaders and infection. However, under certain conditions, the inflammatory response is inappropriately triggered leading to tissue and organ damage. Corticosteroid therapy can minimize tissue damage, prevent kidney failure and aid in the recovery from certain medical conditions, such as arthritis flare-ups, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

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