In some cases a course of steroids for a short time does the trick in bringing the inflammation under 'control'. It will give you pain relief and after the doctors have looked into everything to do with your conditon that pertains just to you - remember lupus can affect us all differently - they can then look into what medications are suitable in their opinion for you.
A lot of patients do definitely benefit from a short course of steroids, but it does not mean that they have to take them permanently.
I have been taking steroids for all of the time I have had SLE which is over 30 years, every day in enormous amounts to start with and reducing them down over the years. If I am feeling really unwell though, I control my intake and take whatever amount will make me feel better.
The thing is though in my case when I was 16 and diagnosed, steroids were the medication that was widely used for lots of chronic conditions. It saved my life and I am so grateful for my parents for agreeing to my taking it.
There really weren't the medications then as there are now. That was me though and that was then. Things have come on in leaps and bounds, and the range of medications and treatment now is amazing.
No doctor would - or should - keep you on steroids unnecessarily, so if you have any doubts about taking them - after all it is your body - then speak to them about it, voice your concerns and if you are really uncertain ask about alternative medications.
Sorry to have gone on but I do want you to be aware of things. So to answer your question, no it does not necessarily have to mean you will take steroids for the rest of your life. (Got there in the end hee hee)!!