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What can it do?

Welcome to the beta Arthritis Virtual Assistant. At the moment it can give you general information about your condition and medication, and provide you with useful exercises to help manage your arthritis.

Why do we need your help?

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant has been built to learn and improve with every use. That way, whenever you use it, you’re indirectly helping another person get the answers that they need for their arthritis.

What can you ask?

You'll get the best response if your question relates to a single type of arthritis, and is expressed as clearly and simply as possible. For example, "What are the best exercises for osteoarthritis?" or "What are the side effects of methotrexate?"


Are you sure you want to close your conversation?

Your conversation will not be visible the next time you visit the Arthritis Virtual Assistant. If you want to keep a copy of the advice you've been given, you can print it using the button at the top of the chat window.

How would you rate your experience so far?


Arthritis Virtual Assistant

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant is being developed into a brand new type of tool which will help you to get the answers you need for your type of arthritis.

This automated chat service is designed to provide general information about your condition and ways you can manage it. It’s been developed from over 80 years of our research work and also learns from the experiences of its users. It’s a ‘beta’ version which means it’s still learning from you, and others. It uses artificial intelligence to decide which are the best responses to give you and it will improve each time it’s used. The better the information we can provide then the more people we can help to manage their condition too.

The advice in this service isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice so we’d always recommend speaking to your doctor about your treatment. When you use the Arthritis Virtual Assistant, you’ll be asked for your first name and the type of arthritis you have, there’s no need to tell us anything more personal than that.

By using the Arthritis Virtual Assistant you confirm that you understand and accept the terms of use and consent to how we will use the information you provide.

Helpline 0800 5200 520 More information

Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes.
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> > > > What are the possible risks and side-effects of steroid tablets?

What are the possible risks and side-effects of steroid tablets?

As with all medicines, some people will have side-effects if they're taking steroid tablets. These are more likely if you're on a high dose or if you need treatment over a long period.

Your doctor will make sure you're on the lowest possible dose that keeps your condition under control.

The most common side-effects are:

  • weight gain and/or increase in appetite
  • stomach pains
  • thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)
  • bruising easily
  • indigestion
  • a round face
  • stretch marks
  • thinning of the skin.

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or epilepsy, steroids can sometimes make these worse. Your doctor should check your blood pressure and blood sugar levels from time to time, and may adjust your medications if necessary.

Steroid tablets can also make glaucoma worse or cause cataracts. It may also cause muscle weakness or occasionally interfere with the menstrual cycle.

Any treatment with steroids may cause changes in mood – you may feel very high or very low. This change may be more common in people with a previous history of mood disturbance. If you’re worried please discuss this matter with your doctor.

Taking steroid tablets can make you more likely to develop infections.

If you feel feverish or unwell, or develop any new symptoms after starting taking steroid tablets it's important to tell your doctor or rheumatology nurse. You should also see your doctor if you develop chickenpox or shingles or come into contact with someone who has chickenpox or shingles. These can be severe in people on steroids, and you may need antiviral treatment.

It's important to keep an eye on your weight while you're on steroid treatment. If you find your appetite increases, making sensible food choices and including some physical activity in your daily routine should help to avoid putting on weight.

Steroids can cause your bones to weaken, and make fractures more likely; this can lead to a condition known as osteoporosis.

Your doctor may advise you to take drugs called bisphosphonates, or calcium and vitamin D supplements, along with the steroids to help prevent osteoporosis.

Regular exercise (especially weight-bearing) can help to reduce the risk of getting osteoporosis, as can making sure you get enough calcium in your diet and avoiding smoking and drinking too much alcohol.


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis. Open Mon–Fri 9am–8pm.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

Virtual Assistant

Our new Arthritis Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to answer your arthritis related questions 24/7.

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Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.