Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Adrenal Cortex Hormones -- adverse effects


Corticosteroids are an often prescribed anti-inflammatory medication. They are used to treat disease processes of every system of the body. Those disease processes or procedures for which corticosteroids are often prescribed are cancer, bone marrow transplants, collagenous diseases (systemic lupus erythematosus), rheumatoid arthritis, leukemia, and anemia.

However, despite the therapeutic benefits of corticosteroids, many adverse effects are possible. Gastrointestinal difficulties, steroid myopathy, hyperglycemia, osteoporosis, impaired cellular immunity, decreased neuropsychological functioning, and avascular necrosis are just a few of the possible adverse effects.

Patients receiving corticosteroids will often be seen by physical therapists for either their primary or secondary diagnoses. Physical therapists are not often instructed in the possible adverse effects of corticosteroids that may occur. The purpose of this study was to create an increased awareness for health professionals (specifically physical therapists) concerning the possible adverse effects of corticosteroids and how these adverse effects may influence patient evaluation, treatment, and progression. A review of the literature was done. The adverse effects covered were avascular necrosis, osteoporosis, impaired cellular immunity, GI disturbances, neuropsychological difficulties, and steroid myopathy. For each of the selected adverse effects, the physiologic mechanism, clinical research, and therapeutic intervention were discussed. Finally, precautions or suggestions for the physical therapist relative to working with the patient on corticosteroids was offered.