Managing Weight Gain from Solu-Medrol for MS Relapse

How You May Gain Weight on Solu-Medrol and How to Minimize It

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Solu-Medrol (methylprednisolone sodium succinate) is the intravenous corticosteroid that is prescribed to people having a multiple sclerosis relapse. For many people, Solu-Medrol takes away MS symptoms in a rather miraculous manner. But these miracles do not come without a price -- the side effects of Solu-Medrol include anxiety, acne, elevated blood glucose, just to name a few. Most of these go away pretty soon after the drug clears from the body.

However, there is one biggie that seems to linger a bit longer for many people -- weight gain.

Weight Gain and Solu-Medrol

There is not a lot of scientific data reporting weight gain as a significant side effect of Solu-Medrol -- this doesn't mean it does not occur, just that it's not a major enough problem to warrant scientific studies on it.

One older study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry did note that "mild" weight gain occurred in a significant proportion of patients (240 MS patients) undergoing intravenous Solu-Medrol and was labeled as a "minor adverse effect." However, the authors of the study do state that this type of information was not often recorded. 

Why Does Solu-Medrol Cause Weight Gain?

The main theories explaining the association between Solu-Medrol and weight gain is that Solu-Medrol, like other corticosteroids, stimulates appetite and that it leads to water retention.

Another theory is that since Solu-Medrol can cause stomach pain and gastritis, people tend to eat more to ease the discomfort -- probably hard to tease apart from an increased appetite.

People can also develop Cushing's syndrome, a rare hormonal disorder, from exposure to corticosteroids. Cushing's syndrome causes upper body and abdominal fat deposits, as well as a rounded face.

However, it's linked more to taking smaller doses over a prolonged period (like oral prednisone for asthma) than large infrequent doses given for MS relapses.

What Can I Do to Avoid Gaining Weight on Solu-Medrol?

While you may be one of the many lucky ones too who does not have to worry about weight gain when you take steroids, here are some common-sense tips to help those who are more troubled by it:

  • Eat a diet low in sodium to minimize fluid retention -- foods high in sodium include processed foods, pizza, bread, lunch meats, and soups
  • Monitor your calories so you do not overeat, a natural reaction for some who take steroids
  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Higher protein diets may help curb your appetite
  • Engage in daily exercise to help burn calories


Chrousos GA, Kattah JC, Beck RW & Cleary PA. Side effects of glucocorticoid treatment. Experience of the Optic Neuritis Treatment Trial. JAMA. 1993 Apr 28;269(16):2110-2.

Lyons PR, Newman PK, Saunders M. Methylprednisolone therapy in multiple sclerosis: a profile of adverse effects. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1988;51:285-287.

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