Osteoporosis is particularly common in smokers, postmenopausal women, the elderly, underweight or immobile, and patients with diabetes or lung problems. Osteoporosis may result in fractures of the spine, ribs or hip joint with minimal trauma. These occur after the first year in 10–20% of patients treated with more than mg prednisone daily. It is estimated that up to 50% of patients on long-term prednisone will develop bone fractures. Vertebral fractures are more common in patients on steroids, even in those with normal bone density.
The body's normal steroid production stops when you take corticosteroids. When an attack of IBD is under control the dose of steroids should be reduced gradually to allow the body to take over again. It may take up to 12 months to completely restore normal steroid production. As increased levels of corticosteroids are necessary for your body to cope with physical stresses such as surgery or illness, you should always tell your doctor, dentist or any paramedical person treating you if you have taken steroids over the previous 12 months. You should never stop steroids suddenly unless advised to do so by your doctor.