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Medications > Ustekinumab | Stelara > Ustekinumab (Stelara) – Pictopamphlet

Ustekinumab (Stelara) – You-ste-KIN-you-mab

How to use this medication

What is it

Some people with arthritis have too much IL-12 and IL-23. IL-12 & IL-23 are a proteins found in the body that can cause pain and swelling in the joints. Ustekinumab is a biologic medicine that blocks IL-12 & IL-23 and helps the pain and swelling of arthritis.

Given by injection

Ustekinumab is given by injection once every 12 weeks.  The normal dose is either 45 or 90 mg and is based on your body weight.

Take it once every 12 weeks

You will receive an injection on week 0, week 4, and then every 12 weeks. You, a friend, or a family member can be taught how to give the injections.

Give it some time

Although some patients can feel better quite quickly in others it can take a little longer.  Keep taking your medication.

What you need to do

Stop if you have an infection

Ustekinumab can make it harder for you to fight off infections.  Call your doctor if:

  • You develop a fever
  • You think you have an infection
  • You are given antibiotics to treat an infection

Make sure to get tuberculosis testing

All patients should have a tuberculosis skin test & chest x-ray before starting ustekinumab.  Talk to your doctor.

Get occasional blood tests

It is important to occasionally have your blood tested while taking ustekinumab.  This is important to keep track of your arthritis.

Side effects & important facts

Injection site reaction

Ustekinumab can rarely cause a reaction (redness, pain, & itching) at the injection site.  Tell your doctor if these are severe.


Ustekinumab should be stopped before surgery.  It can be restarted once things have healed and there is no sign of infection.  If you are having surgery, talk to your doctor about when to stop the medicine.

Pregnancy & breastfeeding

Ustekinumab has not been studied in pregnancy.  Let your doctor know if you are planning to get pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.

Rare brain problems

Patients have very rarely developed a rare brain problem called RPLS while taking ustekinumab.  This is very rare and potentially reversible. Ustekinumab should be stopped if this occurs.


Ustekinumab has very rarely been associated with developing cancer.  Tell your doctor if you have had cancer in the past.

When should I call my doctor

Please call if you need to stop

  • If you feel sick and want to stop
  • If you are concerned about any side effects
  • If you want to or have already stopped the medicine

Other reasons to call your doctor:

Fever or think you have an infection

If you are having surgery

If you become pregnant

If you plan to get any vaccinations

Headache, confusion, seizures, or vision trouble