Medications Causing Joint Pain as a Side Effect

Medications Causing Joint Pain as a Side Effect
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There are many medications out there, from antibiotics to protein pump inhibitors, that may cause joint pain. Taking one or more of these drugs can aggravate the symptoms of arthritic conditions, and can even bring about arthritis — in this case joint pain usually subsides when the medication ceases.

The following are medications causing joint pain as a possible side effect. It is important to keep in mind that not everyone experiences the side effects of a particular drug. Just because you take one of the following medications you will not necessarily experience painful joints. If you do or if you already suffer from arthritis and are concerned about increased symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs (Statins)

According to the American Heart Association, statins, including atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, and simvastatin are frequently used to treat high cholesterol. They block the action of a liver enzyme which plays a role in producing cholesterol. Muscle pain and cognitive issues are common side effects, but joint pain can occur as well.

Lipitor is a common prescription medication that is used to lower cholesterol levels. It’s generic name is atorvastatin calcium. In clinical studies it was found that 5.1 percent of patients experienced this side effect. Other common side effects include headache, muscle pain, back pain, constipation, diarrhea, weakness, trouble sleeping, and lack of appetite. Other popular statins include Mevacor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol, and Crestor.

Protein Pump Inhibitors (Omeprazole)

Protein pump inhibitors (PPIs) are used to address the symptoms of acid reflux disease, such as heartburn, trouble sleeping, and trouble swallowing. They also may help prevent damage to the digestive system by blocking stomach acid. They block the last phase of acid secretion during digestion. They are known to cause joint pain as a possible side effect, as well as anxiety, diarrhea, abdominal pain, changes to appetite, nausea, skin rashes, muscle pain, constipation, and unusual bleeding.

Prilosec OTC, which contains the active ingredient omeprazole magnesium, is one of these medications that is commonly prescribed. Nexium, or esomeprazole, Aciphex, and Prevacid are all forms of the generic omeprazole. While these drugs can cause joint pain, many patients will not experience this side effect.

Doxycycline to Fight Infections

This drug is synthetically made from tetracycline. It is used as an antibiotic to treat a range of bacterial infections from respiratory tract infections to syphilis. The most common side effects of this drug are nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, appetite loss, and photosensitivity. Joint pain, along with severe cramping, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, and fatigue are considered as more serious side effects of this drug. You should definitely talk to your doctor if this medication is causing joint pain and stiffness.

Hydralazine for High Blood Pressure

Hydralazine is the generic name for Apresoline, a prescription medication that is used to treat high blood pressure. It works by relaxing and expanding the blood vessels so blood can flow more easily. Joint pain is a serious side effect of this drug and you should definitely talk to your doctor if you experience pain. Other side effects include dizziness, headache, constipation, fatigue, nasal congestion, and loss of appetite.


Bisphosphonates are a class of drugs which act on the bone. They may be used to treat low bone density, helping to prevent fractures. Some, such as pamidronate disodium (Aredia), are used to treat high calcium levels in the blood. Joint pain is a possible side effect. Other side effects include skin rashes, fever, muscle pain, heartburn (when taken orally) and hypocalcemia (low levels of calcium in the blood). Aside from Aredia, Zometa, Actonel, and Fosamax are all bisphosphonates.

Remedies for Joint Pain from Medication

There are solutions for this problem. You can always talk to your doctor about decreasing the dosage, taking an alternative medication, or even choosing alternative remedies if possible. For example, instead of taking Lipitor to lower cholesterol, it is possible to decrease LDL cholesterol levels with a heart-healthy diet. Using heat or cold therapy can also help you deal with the joint pain. You can talk to your doctor about taking another drug for the pain, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Medications causing joint pain can be an issue for people who have arthritis, or simply for those who are negatively affected by the medications that they are taking. Because there are literally hundreds of drugs that may cause joint pain, make sure you discuss your full health history with your doctor. For many of these medications, joint pain is a less common, yet serious side effect. If you have pain from taking any drug, talk to your doctor.


“Lipitor and Joint Pain.” (EMedTV)

“Side Effects of Antacids and Acid Blockers.” (The Reflux Defense System)\_GERD\_articles/side-effects-antacids-and-acid-blockers.html

Holman, Jennifer Reid “Some Docs in Denial about Statin Side Effects.” (American Diabetes Association)

Doxycycline Side Effects

“Side Effects of Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs (Web MD)

Medicine Net

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photo by Amanda M Hatfield (CC/flickr)