Medications That Can Cause Joint and Muscle Pain – Dr Wendy Davis ND

Medications That Can Cause Joint and Muscle Pain

There is never a good time for muscle and joint pain, but the summer is a time we want to be active and outside, able to take advantage of the warm weather. However, there are some medications that can cause joint and muscle pain so please be mindful if you are taking any of these medications and start to feel a bit more achy.

1. Antibiotic: Levofloxacin 

Levofloxacin belongs to a group of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones and is commonly prescribed for sinus infections and pneumonia. 

Research shows that muscle and joint aches occur in about 14% of people who take fluoroquinolone antibiotics, and symptoms began about 3 days after starting the antibiotic. On average, these side effects resolve about 7 days after the medication is discontinued.

2. Cholesterol-Lowering Medications: Statins (Lipitor, Crestor)

The group of cholesterol drugs known as statins are notorious for causing muscle and joint pain.. The dose of statins does not seem to be related to the occurence of muscle pain. But lowering the dose of statins is one way to reduce statin-induced pain. 

3. Osteoporosis Medication: Bisphosphonates (Foxamax)

Bisphosphonates are medications that treat osteoporosis, a condition that causes weak and brittle bones. These medications prevent the minerals in bones from dissolving and leaking back into the bloodstream, but they can also cause joint pain. For example, the labeling for alendronate (Fosamax) warns that severe bone, muscle or joint pain can occur with bisphosphonates, even though it is a low risk. 

4. Steroids

Corticosteroids, commonly referred to as steroids are common in inhalers that treat lung conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They work by lowering inflammation and swelling in the lungs and opening the airways. 

Although it’s very rare, these inhaled steroids can cause a severe and painful bone complication called osteonecrosis in a small number of people. Osteonecrosis is when bone cells don’t get enough oxygen and start to die.

Long-term use of oral steroids or steroids that are injected into a joint are far more likely to cause this severe bone side effect than inhaled steroids.

5. Breast Cancer Medications: Anastrozole, Exemestane, Letrozole

Anastrozole (Arimidex), Exemestane (Aromasin), and Letrozole (Femara) are medications used in the treatment of breast cancer. They belong to a group of medications known as aromatase inhibitors that block the body from making estrogen hormones. People usually take these medications for up to 10 years after initial treatment to prevent breast cancer from returning. Some studies have found that as many as 47% (almost 1 in 2) of people taking one of these medications may experience joint pain.

6. Acne Treatment: Isotretinoin

Isotretinoin (Acutane) can treat severe acne, however, between 16-51% of people who take this medication experience muscle pain or stiffness. Other studies have found that about 70% of people taking isotretinoin had back pain, and 53% had muscle pain. Additionally, 48% of study participants taking isotretinoin had joint pain. 

7. Nerve Pain/Anti-Seizure Medication: Pregabalin

Pregabalin (Lyrica) can treat certain kinds of nerve pain issues, like those related to fibromyalgia, seizures and diabetes. Joint pain can occur as a side effect of this medication. 

8. Estrogen Medication: Premarin

Premarin (conjugated estrogens) is a hormone medication that many female people take to treat hot flashes and other symptoms related to menopause or low estrogen. This medication causes joint pain in up to 6% of people who take it.