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Decadron=Heavy Legs?


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Hi everyone,

I wanted to ask a quick question:

My mom has been on decadron (16mg/day) since 7/24. her legs seem to get heavier by the day, to the point she can barely make it up stairs. One of the doctors seemed to allude to muscle weakness being a side effect of the steriod - but I am concerned it could be spinal cord compression or something else.

In short, I am just wondering if anyone else's legs got really really heavy while on decadron?

thanks a lot! Brandie

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I ws on decadron for about 6 weeks at 12mg daily. I had some problem with my legs in that when I qould squat down to do something, it would be hard to get up - sometimes i needed to grab something. I did stairs regularly and had no problem with that.

I did however have bad problems when I got off the decadron - all bones ached and more than a little. It was the worst pain I had experienced since starting down this road. (I think you need to be on it for a while for the withdrawal to be a problem and I also got off it very quickly).


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I had the same exact problem last year when I was on daily Decardron. The heaviness was from muscle weakness and the edema in my upper thighs. I barely had any range of motion. Squatting down to pick something up was IMPOSSIBLE.

Sadly it took me several months to shake all the side effects I developed once I got off the drug but they did eventually all go away.

I'm currently on Decadron again 2mg every other day which is such a double edged sword. I had hoped to get through this course of radiation without it but the inflammation was too painful and this was the only thing that worked. So far the leg heaviness has not returned and I'm only showing mild signs of Cushing's (moon face, bloated belly).

I hope that your Mom is able to wean herself off the Decadron soon. It can make you feel SO good but as time goes on the side effects outweigh the benefits. I was on it for 6 months last year and that was 3 months too long but it was the only way to manage my pain at the time.

God Bless.


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My leg muscles became very weakened from steroids. It happened almost immediately. I had trouble climbing stairs, getting up from a sitting/squating position and falling off ladders and inability to recover from the fall ie/strength and balance. Steroids affect large muscle groups first.

If she had a spinal cord problem, there would probably be other symptoms with the injury such as: Possibly One leg more affected than the other. Dermatome numbness. Loss of bladder/bowel control. Pain/aching down one or both legs. Foot drop.

Cindi o'h

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Hi There,

Just wanted to let you know that my Father and I just came back from the doctor's today and we had asked the same question about the heavy legs - especially when climbing stairs.

The doctor explained that it is a side effect of Decadron and that steroids tend to weaken the muscles. Once he is off of it, his strength will return. The doctor is weaning my Father off of it and said that it's best that people not be on Decadron for a long time.

Hope this helps,k


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  • 2 weeks later...


The heavy, weak legs remind me of my mother. She passed away June 6, 2006 at the age of 86. She lived 6 weeks after being diagnosed with stage IV nsclc. She had 2 tiny mets in her brain so they wanted to do radiation treatments for that before beginning chemo. She did very well until the 7th treatment and then her legs got heavier and heavier until she could barely get around. I never did find out if that was caused by the radiation or by the steriods. She finished her treatments but passed away a week later. She went down very quickly after the treatments. We had no idea the radiation would be so bad. We were more concerned about the chemo.

I hope your mom does better since she is a lot younger than my mom.

I pray for peace for you. I know how stressful it can be.


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Mom's were very literally and visibly heavy. She had so much fluid built up, her legs looked like sausages and she had cankles (calves that went all the way to her feet--no ankles :lol: ). I'm sure her story is a bit different than what you were wondering about, though.

:) Kelly

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Thanks again for all your replies. Here's an update:

Mom's last dose of decadron was on Sunday. By Monday her legs already started to let up. Each day we get a little lighter. Her ankles are still massively swollen, but I imagine those will go down too. The doc recommended compression stockings, so we got some. I am not sure they are doing much.

She'll have to go on decadron again in a high dose before chemo at the beginning of September, but I am thankful she was on it for such a short time. I've been on prednisone many times in my life and I am shocked at how much harsher decadron is. I also noticed that if we had not asked for her to be tapered off, they probably would have kept her dosing 16mg/day....I am still shocked at how closely I have to keep on top of "the best cancer doctors in the world." It is a bit un-nerving since my degree is in political science and not medicine!! Thank goodness for this board!

Have a good weekend everyone!

P.S. "cankles" - what a great term!! My mom will laugh! :D

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Hello Brandie, my dad too is currently taking decadron, only for about a month so far. I asked him about the heavy legs, but he hasn't experienced it yet. I do know though, that ever since he started taking the medication, both his energy and appetite has returned. He also has a more positive outlook on life. My fear is- what will happen when he goes off of it? Will he fill crummy again? As far as addiction is concernced, I don't think that my dad is too concerned about that. :? Any advise or suggestions are greatly appreciated.


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