Q. I’ve been on simvastatin (80 mg) for several years. I’ve had serious problems with leg cramps and now my tendons are affected from my toes to my knees. Could the medication be responsible?
A. The FDA has just issued a warning about simvastatin (Zocor). The agency is concerned about muscle damage linked to high doses (80 mg) of this cholesterol-lowering medicine. Doctors are not supposed to prescribe this dose to new patients. Only people who have not experienced muscle problems after taking it for a year should continue on the 80 mg dose.
Even lower doses of simvastatin may cause side effects. One reader shared his story: “I was started on simvastatin 20 mg, and by the third week I was in a lot of pain. My triceps and biceps hurt the worst, as though someone was ripping the muscles apart. I also had pain in my hips, legs and shoulders.
“I stopped the simvastatin, but my blood tests showed elevated CPK (muscle breakdown) and decreased GFR (kidney functioning). Six months later, the labs show my GFR is normal, but my CPK is still mildly elevated. When I try to exercise, my muscles get sore quickly and the soreness lasts longer.”

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  1. Debbie
    United States

    My husband has been on simvastatin for two years 40mg he is 68 years old and his symptoms started a year ago, with him having hardly any muscle strength in his arms.

    Then about two months ago his wrists started swelling and he hardly could move them and started having leg cramps. He went from being able to Garden and Fishing and things he loved to do, to not being able to hardly do anything. He saw his GP yesterday and he told him to stop taking simvastatin, that he is pretty sure that is what is causing all of his problems, his Doctor also is doing a lot of blood test on my husband as well. I just hope and pray that my husband gets better, it just breaks my heart that I didn’t research this medicine when he first started taking it.

  2. jlp

    Or eat a banana a day.

  3. muffy

    Take potassium, I bought it at walmart 598 mg once a day, it works wonders.

  4. PAM S.

    I was taking a Statin and I had horrible cramps and leg pain. I stopped taking the Statin last week because my cpk levels were very high. I also have needles or tingles in my legs and even my arms. Will the pain and the needles every go away and is this normal?

  5. JTR

    I have been taking 20MG of Simvastatin for three to five years. I have also been fighting swelling of my feet for a similar time. Various doctors had suggested fusing all the foot bones, foot braces, 5 mg Prednisone. I refused the fusing, the other were of limited relief for a few months.
    Elevating the foot of the bed has helped reduce the swelling at the start of the day, but the foot has become very sensitive. I have been doing this for about two weeks. The swelling returns as the day progresses.
    Have you had complaints of Simvastatin causing foot swelling? Do you have any similar complaints of swelling? (age 87)

  6. Peter Harridge

    Since July 2012. I was prescribed both Simvastatin and Ramipril by a cardiac consultant at the Hospital following a heart event which maybe was a heart attack. Certainly was a minor heart event brought on by exercise.
    But to look at the effects of Simvastatin/Ramipril on my health problems, we need to look at what I had for years-A) Hip pain which could be in part alleviated by ITB specific exercises/strengthening work and B) mild sore throats which would make one think you had a virus coming on but in fact no virus would develop.
    I had such a sore throat when prescribed and miraculously cleared up. Because I have temporarily given up both tabs for a short time I pretty much know which is responsible (at least in my own mind).
    After giving up a simvastatin tablet for even 1 day I get a sore throat back. After giving up Ramipril for a week I had the hip pain back and not only that had massive problems in a 100M cycle time trial. Developing ITB/hip pain in it and nausea problems at a much earlier time. Lucky to get round at all and the last 10M I slowed deliberately and the stomach cleared up. But after I finished I had to rest for about 10 minutes after having the GTN spray. And wasn’t too bad.
    So Simvastatin cures the throat and Ramipril cures hip pain. I was interested in your comment about the immune system but wasn’t too able to find out much on the net. A lot of studies don’t seem to be able to be accessed without paying a substantial fee(science direct). But I did see one reprehensible study on mice which actually were given a bad inflammation and just before were given a massive amount of Simvastatin(100 MG/Kg of weight) and it helped those mice substantially. But my take on this is that the body is doing this with the help of the drug rather that Simvastatin is an anti-inflammatory. But hell, I could be wrong.
    So without these drugs I would be in a problem especially in the winter, and I don’t mean a winter where you get sub-zero temps (centigrade I’m talking about) but where it goes lower than 7C daytime on a regular basis with rain often. And also be in trouble when taking what most people would consider cycling which would be beyond them in terms of speed and duration. Not that it is!
    I could also give instances where I have missed a Simvastatin tablet (just because I left it at home while spending the night away), did a short time trial and had to have the week off with severe breathing problems. So one of the GP’s sad it was preventative but in my case, he was wrong. It is being used as such for a lot of people but I actually need it. I may not need it in Florida but I do here.
    Turning into a long post but I have noticed ads while I am in America and I blame the system of health on that. But there aren’t many ads here for drugs. For a long time those ads were not allowed by law but that has been relaxed now. But healthcare via a GP/Hospital doesn’t cost hardly anything so there is no point in ads for prescription items. So ads would be concentrated on targeting docs I guess. The only cost we have here is a prescription charge which because I have quite a few I pay per month (£10.40 per month or $17.70 at current exchange rates). Otherwise it could mount up(£7.20 per prescription item.) So here it’s not such a money issue at least for the general population.

  7. JS

    I ended up going to a nephrologist due to my Kidney filtration (GFR) dropping lower and lower in every blood test I had after taking 20 mg simvastatin. The doctor still says oh kidney problem is NOT a side effect, well my blood work says otherwise and I stopped it. My GFR dropped out of normal range to a low of 46 which indicated state 3 kidney disease?? It also made my arms and hands burn and made me feel like I just was not there… I am due for detailed blood work at the end of this month and I will not go back on a statin no matter how high my cholesterol is. My kidney function kept dropping every single blood test after starting the simvastatin, I do not need a doctors degree to realize what caused it but it seems my doctor still does not think that decreased kidney function is a side effect so never reported it as such.

  8. joe e.

    Peter, taking 40 mg Daily, you have my sympathy, just curious, how long? familiar w/ the effects on the Immune System? If not I suggest you check it out. Diet & exercise, avoiding illness is Drug mnftrs. worst enemy $$$$ in some cases Drs. too. No Patients = No sales or visits, just like fast food companies. It’s called “FREE ENTERPRISE.” I sit here as the TV plays endless commercials regarding Rx Drugs. MONEY MONEY MONEY.

  9. Joanne

    Brooke… sometimes pharmacists know better what’s going on than the doc, although it wasn’t my doctor who told me to take COQ 10. Shortly after my second open heart surgery, a former boss called and said “Be sure to take COQ 10″. Maybe he was trying to do me in.
    You do have to be your own advocate.

  10. Peter Harridge

    Yes this is interesting in the light of my conversation yesterday with my sister. I said that I have noticed that most of the complaints about side effects on here are people who are taking a small dose of statin such as 10 or 20 mg. There have been next to no complaints on patients who take 40 mg such as me. So, think that the problem is that the heart itself is responsible for not helping get rid of pain. So, the only answer is to put up the dose to 40mg.
    I have also noticed when I miss a dose, I have an irregular heartbeat and my HR at rest goes down. OK you don’t believe m e(nor does my GP), here is the evidence. Avg HR last week 51.86, missed tablet and it was 41 and later on a train 43 (so hardly resting and also had just done a hilly 18M cycle ride). Another time I had an irregular HR was by coincidence or not (I think not) after I last missed a tablet. On that occasion I had real trouble at work, had to rest frequently, and couldn’t walk upstairs without resting.
    Prior to taking the tablet my HR was often 37 or so. By the way, Jaw pain is often indicated and when I am suffering from the heart problem I often get chest pain and jaw pain and clicking in the jaw (sometimes going to the head as well). After taking aspirin, I find the jaw clicks a lot before the pain gets better. So, these are the signs of a heart event I know. So if you have jaw pain, its not a great shot in the dark to say a heart event could be imminent. When you do get this, I would eat carbs and have soluble aspirin- preferably a low dose, say 150mg. Food certainly helps in my case, I have also found no Simvasatin tablet means eating far more.

  11. joe e.

    I stopped Simvastatin 35 days ago after Chronic Post Herpetc Neuralgia brought on from Shingles (caused by a Weak Immune System / Statins). Now the Acyclovir is working as it should after 14 months of misery, better balance, memory, thought and retention along with interpretation .

  12. Shelly

    I had a friend start taking this medication on May 21. By June 21 she was falling down and couldn’t walk due to severe pain in her legs. This led to a 10 day hospitalization in which other meds were removed, but not this one. After the 10 days, she was released to come home, without anyone figuring out what might be wrong. They all blamed it on Neurophothy.
    After researching the meds when she got home, we were amazed at the timeline this one showed. She stopped the med on this past Friday, and today is Sunday. She says she has had the best day in a long time. She hasn’t had to take a pain pill since this morning, she has been out and about all day running errands. While she still can’t walk without a walker, and is still can’t drive, she is feeling better. We are hoping this will clear up and she can go back to work soon.

  13. Brooke

    You are right Joanne, sorry. My husband took coq10 and still had the muscle problems with statin so it doesn’t always protect- which some might assume. He was also only on 10 mg of Prevastatin

  14. Brooke

    My husband took Prevastatin , 10 mg along with with 200 mg of COQ10 for two years and had muscle pain, sweats and fatigue. His pain moved around his body, wrists, feet, left hip, jaw, right shoulder etc. He stopped taking Prevastatin and it took 2 weeks for his muscle pain to go away but it did. He had some jaw pain and wrist pain a few days ago but his MD said that may happen once in awhile. His MD has changed his diagnosis from polyrhematica to statin myalgia. He is back to his 25 mile bike rides. This can be misdiagnosed as polyrhumatica myalgia which gets better within a few days of taking low dose prednisone. The other difference is polyrhematica is worse in the am and it is on both sides of the body. It’s scary to think what might have happened to him if I hadn’t discovered this discussion! I found site and he went off of the statin and then his MD changed his mind and agreed that it was the statin. You have to be your own advocate. Thank you

  15. joe e.

    KB, after reading your post I sit here and wonder (how long has KB been taking it / simvastatin). I’ve been taking it for over 10 years and STOPPED June 26th. Of this year. I contracted Shingles 14 months ago, Drs. And I were assuming it would “take it’s usual course of approx. 90 days” (WAS I IN FOR A REAL SURPRISE).
    I had an outbreak above my eye, it continued further up onto the top of head. Acyclovir first Rx’d wasn’t helping (I also have Epilepsy) so they put me on Gabepentin 900mg 3 times daily along w/ phenytoin / primadone STILL NO LET UP OF AGONIZING PAIN, sleepless nights, tried GYM / exercise bike next to my bed, rode 5 miles daily, diet. Then started reading after Dr. suggesting NERVE BLOCK (No Thanks to that one) I assumed I had damage to the Mylein Nerve Sheath (cover of nerve / transmitters, synapse, receptor etc.).
    I “chalked it up “to another illness for life. But then while brushing my teeth I saw the 1 word on Listerine GERMS! and began experimenting being the Drs. Were too. Turns out my PA Rx’d an Anti-Biotic Ointment (that didn’t work) then after applying Calamine countless times for over 2 weeks still pain w/ slight bleeding, itching & burning, stinging, stabbing PAIN both outer and inner (deep and surface). I read that Herpes Zoster / Chicken Pox is a VIRUS.
    I went back to using the ANTI-VIRAL OINTMENT after stopping SIMVASTATIN approx. 30 days ago. Sure enough! IT DOESN’T INHIBIT THE ACTIVITIES / HEALING PROPERTIES OF ACYCLOVIR being it is NO LONGER IN MY BLOOD SYSTEM!. Plus my MEMORY / Stability and desire to continue LIVING is “Normal “AGAIN!. I’ve come to the conclusion that in my case the Drs. Only knew / know what they wanted to know or only what they were taught. Here it is me (an Idiot who quit High School in the 11th. Grade) was able to figure something out THEY Couldn’t. I can interpret STOCK CHARTS along w/ Fundamentals like my mind was when I was 25 years old and I’m 62, PATHETIC and SAD.
    I also read more about Statins, it seems the damage to the immune system makes life worse and shorter for a lot of peoples. I haven’t yet found out who was in charge @ the FDA in approving these things and where they work along w/ their STOCK PORTFOLIO is yet. Deep down inside I sense the “boy w/ the beard” and glasses could have been charge to get this stuff sold.

  16. Lorraine

    I got off the Satin, took the red yeast rice and the cramp’s got worse, I kicked that to the side started taking potassium, 500 mg, and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with one tablespoon of honey in 8 oz of water every day. I can stretch, curl my toe’s, and sleep on my stomach with a leg over a pillow with no problem’s now. I go back to the Dr in October to have my blood check but I didn’t realize how much I missed stretching almost forgot I could do it.

  17. KB

    Doing well on Simvastatin, just doing my check update on any neW side effects for Simvastatin…I just happened to read the very first story on this page…the man with the leg cramps..just a suggestion..it may not be the simvastatin, but could be the red yeast he said he’s taking…I had a friend who had also been taking red yeast…she spoke with her dr about going off it and when she did, her leg weakness & cramps went away almost immediately she said… within a week or less she could go walking again, even go to the grocery store on her own again with no pain whatsoever…may be worth a try….just because some people can use it for years with no problems…????????????

  18. Jessica B.

    I started Pravastatin only 10 days ago. My doctor prescribed 40 mg it as my cholesterol was 226 (I’m in my mid forties, exercise twice a week, in general terms I’m fit and healthy, well, except for the cholesterol level which doc said in my case is 100% genetic.)
    Anyways, this morning an excruciating muscle cramp in my calf woke me up. The pain was so intense that I screamed for help. I was alone, so I just tried to get out of bed and stand out thinking that would alleviate pain. What a mistake I made! I got so dizzy, my leg gave in and I fell down almost breaking my head when I hit it against a corner table, as a consequence, My forehead is sore with a purple bump the size of a golf ball and my leg?
    After 14 hours it still hurts… I’ve been limping all day long! No more Pravastatin or any other statin for me. I’ll start Fish Oil and increase my flax seed intake. Thanks for all info!

  19. Joanne

    Do not automatically assume or advise people to take COQ10!
    It depends upon what they are taking for a statin. Your pharmacist can tell you whether or not they are compatible.

  20. Nicola V.

    I was prescribed 10mg Simvastatin for what I believe is only mildly elevated cholesterol: 204 total, 140 LDL. This was after I went to the ER for chest pain that I was pretty sure was stress, got thoroughly checked out, they couldn’t find anything. I am also hypothyroid and have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
    I only took the pills twice. I woke up the first night with back pain around my kidney area that kept me awake, and then had diarrhea the next day. Took the second dose the following day and then felt like complete and utter crap—light headed, weak, upset stomach again, dry mouth, slight numbness in my extremities, and like my blood sugar levels kept dropping (my blood sugar was fine during the constant hospital monitoring).
    So I looked it up and found that this stuff can cause diabetes? (I had gestational diabetes, so my chances are already higher, as well as my other history of endocrine disorders, thankyouverymuch). I also found several sites that said this drug is NOT recommended for those with thyroid disorders.
    I’m pretty annoyed, actually. I think it’s pretty clear that in my case the risks don’t outweigh the benefits, but it makes me wonder if the doctors are really thoroughly considering the side effects and contraindications of this drug. Meanwhile I’m hoping it gets out of my system soon so I can stop feeling weak and nauseated.

  21. Brooke

    Try zinc. It stopped my husband’s cramps. One 50 mgs pill did it but I have read that you can take it a few times a week. They think that his statins have cause him to have polyrhematica but not sure yet. Make sure you take coq10!

  22. Peter Harridge

    First thing, you are not old. I am 58 and believe me I’m not old. Perhaps its a state of mind. Second thing, Underactive thyroid is known to become a lot of sufferers to be depressed which in turn leads to inactivity which in turn leads to worse symptoms. And in the end you just sleep and eat and become even more lethargic. I was borderline underactive and believe me, the only remedy was to get out and do something even if its only walking. I know you only want to sleep and eat, but just to get out your front door will lead to lessening of symptoms. I used to suffer at weekends, but didn’t in the week at all. Why? Because I had to cycle to work and I was fine until I did nothing.
    I do wonder why you were on Simvastatin at all. I am on 40 mg and I am sure it has caused no side effects apart from shoulder pain initially. But that lasted only weeks. Can it cause depression, I hadn’t heard that and it is difficult to understand why unless it is causing people to be more inactive.

  23. Salma

    I have been taking simvastatin 20mg for nearly two years. Since taking it I have been complaining of leg/feet/groin pains to my GP. Each of which were treated separately without ever considering simvastatin might be the culprit. I blamed my lethargy and aches and pains to my hypothyroidism.
    I am also suffering from memory loss and initially brushed it aside as old age (I am 57) but lately it’s got so bad that I have picked up leaflets on dementia and have been looking up info regarding such.
    Recently I feel so depressed that I have been crying all the time (totally unlike me) and have been considering seeing a councilor.
    Then I decided to look up to see if my drugs were inter-reacting and to look up the side effects of my medication.
    Reading the side effects of simvastatin has cleared the fog. I have changed my GP and stopped taking simvastatin and will see my NEW GP to discuss it.
    Wish me luck.

  24. Peter Harridge

    Stretching, that’s the answer. Outside muscle of your left leg, where-between the hip and knee perhaps and is it tender if you hit it. This sounds like Illotibial band problems which can cause pain in both the knee and hip. Call me an idiot but it doesn’t have to be a statin that causes this. I had hip pain for years before a heart problem emerged. And now am largely pain free until last week when I tried dropping Ramipril and I paid the price in ITB pain and hip related pain. So, Ramipril can help and why is this. My theory-helps the heart do its job better.
    There are ITB strengthening exercises you can do in addition to specific stretches. But the best thing is to get a foam roller as well, which you lie on and roll on it funnily enough.
    Alieve (Naproxen) should never be given out by shops without a prescription. I don’t know what the U.S. authorities are doing letting this happen esp. when you can’t even get Ibuprofen Gel or Voltarol (Diclofenac Gel). Hope you are not taking Alieve on an empty stomach, ibuprofen should also never be taken on an empty stomach or Aspirin for that matter. Personally, I would never take any anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen or Diclofenac or Naproxen at all. Perhaps I would take Diclofenac if a really bad pain but Ibuprofen, not worth the risk of ulcers considering it’s not that effective in my opinion.
    I am on Simvastatin and Ramipril and have no hip pain at the moment. Don’t even know what COQ 10 is, but I am in England so I would theorise it is expensive which means it couldn’t be offered. It would bankrupt the country given the doctors want to give statins out to the general population (over 50).

  25. Lorraine

    Been on this for 5 years. Took CoQ 10 with it, and it seemed to help for a while (2 years 100mg). Now the cramp’s are terrible.
    They wake me in the middle of night, and all I can do is walk them off and drink water and take Alieve. Next day my muscles are so sore- groin of my right leg ,and the outside muscle of my left leg.
    I have a call into my Dr. Going to try something different.

  26. mk

    I was on Lipitor 20mg for a few years when when Zocor had a generic my doctor says not the same dose had to do 40mg as they were not really the same and have been on it several more years. I have been taking the Flush free Niacin 500 mg as they say it help to lower your cholesterol along with the Zocor 40mg it has come down below the 200 but my left leg is giving me trouble. One doctor said the tendon needs to be stretched and told me how to exercise it but another said pinched nerve I really believe the first one after reading the comments but this has been long time on the simvastain and I would like to stop it even if only every other day then less and less.
    I also had a kidney stone which I had never had before and I am 82 and very active mow my lawn on rider and push mower had been dancing till a year ago now some one let me know what you think my daughters doctor told her to get off but she had only been on it a couple month ordered by another doctor hers was like 265 mine had not been that high little over 200 before I took any thing. Someone clue me in thanks you for your opinion mk

  27. rl

    I started 20 mg zocor simvastatin 2 weeks ago… fatigued, feel like I have no strength in my arms, 65 degrees outside and I feel cold, I just sit in my chair and hardly move these last few days, something is off. I’m 60 and thought I felt pretty good until I started this. Are these normal or common side effects of this medication?

  28. mm

    I have been on simvastatin (20 mg) for at least five years and others for at least five years more. I am 71 years old and am good shape. About 2 months ago, starting feeling so tired and severe heart palpitations and irregular heart beats at night. I woke up a lot at night, started having aches and pains and a bad right hip. Wow, I have never felt like this —oh also terrible heart burn. Went to refil my rx last week and sat and read all the side effects—there were so many new ones and all my ailments were on that list.
    So, have been off them for about 2 weeks now, all symptoms are a lot better except irregular heart beats. Am going to give it about two more weeks before going to the doctor about heart. I am so thankful for this website and to all of you for being honest about symptoms. Thanks

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