Statin pills and a warning sign

For decades we have been receiving messages from people who have experienced devastating and debilitating muscle damage from their use of drugs like atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor). By 2007 we had names for these reactions: ALS-like syndrome, necrotizing myopathy and myositis. Here are just a few stories that barely scratch the surface of the pain and suffering people have described:

“After 4 years on Lipitor, my husband can no longer walk on his own. Two weeks ago I mentioned the possibility of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) to his M.D. She said it was Parkinson’s disease.  After reading your article, I am confused.” C.D., Aug., 2007

“I began taking Lipitor in April 2000 due to a blocked artery. I was 50 years old.

“I started having memory loss after 4 years and took myself off. I got better, but in 2005 my cholesterol was up and the Dr. put me back on, but changed it to Crestor. In 8 months I developed weakness in my legs and couldn’t get up out of a chair, go up/down the stairs etc.

“I went off the Crestor on my own in Jan. 2007. I started exercising more, I had already been using the gym 3-4 times a week. I got stronger, in that I could get up out of a chair without using the chair arms. However, I began to see a loss of thigh muscle and was being diagnosed with osteoporosis.

“I mentioned my leg problems to the rheumatologist. He was concerned and after having electro-muscle probes and a muscle biopsy, I have been diagnosed with the rare Inclusion Body Myositis.

“There is really no treatment for this debilitating disease, but I am trying home injections of methotrexate. I’ve been taking the shots for a month. I’m not sure if I’m any stronger yet. I will continue for a few months and hopefully I will improve. If not, I will stop the shots and there will be nothing else to take.

“There is very little research on this disease since it is so rare. However, I did find an abstract in the Science Direct written in Feb. ’07 that research is linking statins to necrotizing myopathies suggesting statins may initiate an immune-mediated myopathy that may respond to immunosuppressive therapy. So, I’m somewhat hopeful.

“With us baby boomers using these statins to supposedly improve our lives, there may begin to be more cases of these muscle diseases. I personally think the statins, especially Crestor, initiated this disease. I will live with this the rest of my life and unfortunately the prognosis is that in 10-15 years I will be unable to walk without support.” B.A.H., Oct. 30, 2007

“My sister, after taking Lipitor for about a year or so, was diagnosed with ALS.  She lost her speech, ability to swallow, her balance, became totally degenerated and she died 18 months ago.  She was in perfect health and very strong for her age (76) until this dreaded disease struck her.

“It is imperative that people are made aware of this.  Too many of them are taking this medication and the pharmaceutical companies are making a fortune.” A. Nov. 4, 2007

“My father took Lipitor for two weeks. He refused to take it after that because he said his legs bothered him when he took it. He was a perfectly healthy active man before taking Lipitor. Nine months later he was diagnosed with ALS.

“Because he refused statins, the doctor told my mother he was a hard head and didn’t listen. His cholesterol was only slightly elevated; borderline high. I remember him telling his ALS doctor that Lipitor caused his ALS, but the doctor told him that is not possible.

“I find it terrible that doctors refuse to listen to their patients, and to an extent, almost ridicule them, when they try to save themselves from bad advice. I am not sure what is the bigger evil, statins possibly being the cause of my father’s death, or the doctors refusing to listen, possibly allowing more people to die.”  J.M., Nov 5, 2007

“Starting about two years ago, I took simvastatin daily for about three months in an effort to reverse known, but early-stage, coronary-artery disease. I discontinued it because of worsening weakness in my hands.

“Three months later, I agreed to try pravastatin which I took for about 7 months before the symptoms once again worsened. I once again stopped the medication and have not taken any statin drugs since. Nonetheless, my ALS-like symptoms are progressing and spreading.

“I am currently undergoing thorough neurological evaluations. Did the statins serve as a catalyst for a pre-existing condition? Were they simply unfortunate coincidences? Were they responsible for my other symptoms? So far, nobody seems to know.” M.R., Feb. 23, 2009

“I developed muscle weakness soon after starting Lipitor. When I complained to my doctor, he switched me to Vytorin. The muscle weakness continued even after being off the statins for 6 month. I was diagnosed with biopsy proven inclusion body myositis. My muscle strength continues to decline and my neurologist says that there is no effective treatment at this time.” M.K., March 26, 2013

“After taking statin drugs for approximately a year, I developed muscle cramps. I discontinued the drugs, but the muscle cramps and then muscle weakening continued. I was diagnosed with ALS in June of 2013. 
Until the muscle problems started, I had always been very healthy and active.” Dona, Feb. 2, 2014

According to the FDA, such reports are mere coincidence. The agency analyzed data from clinical trials and concluded that:

“FDA Analysis Shows Cholesterol Lowering Medications Do Not Increase the Risk of ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’ Agency recommends no change in prescribing and use of statins”

The trouble with the FDA’s assessment is that it relies on industry-sponsored studies. When patients develop complications during such a clinical trial they may be dropped from the study and their data may disappear without a trace. In addition, there may be a genetic susceptibility that makes some people more vulnerable to this reaction than others. Clinical trials may not detect a signal that affects a relatively small number of people. But given that tens of millions are taking statins, even a relatively low risk can quickly turn into a large number of people.

A New Understanding of the Mechanism Underlying Severe Statin Myopathy

Doctors like mechanisms. In other words, they often don’t believe something unless there is a scientific rationale to explain it. That is why the ALS-like symptoms and myopathy issues have been so controversial. Many doctors have just refused to believe there was a reason for this complication other than simple aging.

Now, an article titled “The Spectrum of Statin Myopathy” published in Current Opinion in Rheumatology (Nov. 2013) reveals a potential cause for irreversible muscle damage triggered by statins.

The authors point out that 5-20 percent of patients “do not tolerate the side effects of statins, resulting in discontinuation of therapy.” Most of the muscle problems disappear after discontinuation of statins. The authors go on to say:

“In these patients, statins are thought to cause a direct toxicity to muscle fibres that is self-limited, here referred to as toxic statin myopathy. In contrast, a small number of patients with concurrent statin use develop a progressive, autoimmune necrotizing myopathy. This disorder is characterized by progressive muscle weakness, elevated muscle enzymes, specific autoantibodies against the target of statins, HMGCR and progression of symptoms and signs despite discontinuation of statins.”

The word “necrotizing” should raise red flags for any physician. It is derived from the Greek word nekros or death. It literally means “causing the death of tissue.” In the case of statins, the death of muscle tissue.

The article goes on to say that statin-induced muscle damage can occur within a week of starting treatment or after four years. In our experience with visitors to this website, it can even occur after more than a decade of use. The higher the dose of statin, the greater the risk, though some people seem to be so vulnerable that even a small dose can trigger severe muscle reactions.

The Bottom Line

Although most people are able to recover muscle function after discontinuing statin therapy, a minority develop an “autoimmune necrotizing myopathy” that continues despite stopping the medication. The authors of the report state that “Anti-HMGCR antibody testing may provide a useful noninvasive test to help diagnose these patients and direct their treatment.” Employing powerful immune-suppressing drugs may help control the progression of this disease, at least temporarily.

Ultimately, the FDA needs to come to terms with the large number of people who are suffering statin side effects. A re-analysis of the many ALS-like and myopathy case reports may lead the agency to reconsider its exoneration of statins. In the meantime, we hope that patients and their families will become more aware of this potential complication and take heed.

Share your own experience with statins below in the comment section. You may also find our book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them of interest. We discuss the tunnel vision that has made it hard for so many prescribers to come to terms with a variety of devastating drug side effects.

Join Over 90,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. cheryl
    United States

    I suffered for over a year with seavere leg cramps and Charlie horses, my doctor took me off my satins and put me on gemifibrozil and now I’m so weak after a weak on it,I decided tomarrow no more and will contact my doctor, if feel my satin and my new medication are the cause of both illness. I hope other people find out across the enernet like I did.there should be warnings on the labels of these medications.

  2. Nvr2Amzd
    Boise, ID

    I’d been on statins for years; Crestor for approximately 10 years, along with Tri-Cor (fenofibrate). About 6 months ago, I started having leg and foot pain, mainly in one leg. Thought it was a podiatry issue, due to an injured foot, so had custom orthotics made…but no relief. It steadily got worse… so, my primary care provider took me off Crestor in October; I went off fenofibrate two weeks later. Some relief but the pain has continually persisted and even escalated!

    I’m now three months off Crestor and fenofibrate (it’s late January)… and still in agony! My nights are worse: about 2 AM the pain starts (severe muscle cramping and burning) and there goes my sleep… The pain migrates, usually in the upper arm and the upper leg (thigh), moving back and forth from left to right, vice versa. Lately the leg pain has been migrating into the calf area of my legs.

    I’m worn out and totally devastated over the fact this is no-doubt due to my long-term statin intake. These are things that Big Pharma doesn’t address… and we, the guinea pigs, are suffering for the Big Bucks that Big Pharma pulls in! Mad, you bet! I’m in agony (I cannot tolerate heavy-duty, narcotic, pain killers, either–OTC pain meds just don’t tackle this intense pain) and I’m furious! So far, blood tests show no permanent damage but how long does it take to flush Statins (and fenofibrates) out of my system? Or will this ever cease?

  3. Joyce

    I am 62 and have had a healthy and active life. I was prescribed Simvastatin for mildly elevated Cholesterol after diet changes, weight loss, and increased exercise didn’t bring it below 200. My father died from multiple strokes and it was this history that lead the doctor to put me on statins.

    After taking this medicine for 10 years, I started noticing burning muscles in my upper arms and increased fatigue. I put it down to my job and aging. I finally had to quit my job hoping that I would start feeling better after I eliminated the stress of work. Instead I kept feeling worse and my left eye started to bulge. After nearly a year and 5 different doctors I found one that actually looked at what medicine I was taking. He told to quit the statin immediately. Within a couple of weeks I could tell my eye was getting better and I was not in as much pain or as fatigued.

    It has been a year since I stopped the medication and the muscle pain and fatigue are coming back. My shoulder joints have now started to hurt terribly in the last couple of months and I never get a good night’s sleep. I saw my doctor last week and felt the shoulder issue was old age and was unsure about my burning and cramping muscles. All my labs are very good. Now I’m not sure who can advise me.

    The many comments that I have read concern me greatly. Any suggestions?

  4. Ron

    Having been on ‘statins’ since the early 80’s, I have been on one or another continually including Lipitor, Zocor, and now Crestor. At higher dosages, extreme myalgia and now joint pain have been experienced. In addition ear lobe pain and scalp pain manifested itself. Prescribed back to 10mg instead of 40mg of Crestor has lessened the myalgia and coincidentally did away with the ear and scalp pain.
    Though muscle atrophy- from Lipitor use- in my legs and upper arms have been reversed, I am still concerned that ‘statin’ usage could damage other muscles, such as heart, etc. RonE

  5. Helen

    So muscle pain and cramps are possible in one leg only? ER doc I saw today said my severe right leg cramps could not be caused by simvastatin because simvastatin caused muscle cramps in both legs!

  6. Kim
    Hardinsburg, KY

    Not real happy after reading all these comments. I just want to add that I too was put on Lipitor at the age of 39. After being on it for a lil over 7 months I had to wind up going to a different doctor and explaining my issue with excruciating pain in hips and legs while walking. And walking uphill ohhhh my id rather someone kill me- the pain is that severe.

    My medical history is I do have type 2 diabetes which is why I was put on Lipitor in the first place. Although once my second opinion Doctor took me off the Lipitor I felt the pain eased up but within a few weeks it was back with a vengeance. I have had every blood test, X-ray, ultrasound known to man with every prognosis being Negative. I have an appointment with an endocrinologist due to getting my diabetes under control. The pain in my legs are worse every day. I’m a 40 yr old woman that drags herself out of bed only to cry on the way to work once I drop my son off at school.

    Chores at home have been handed over to my family so much I feel I do nothing. It’s as though I have been placed within a body I do not know and unable to transform into anything useful. An emotional roller coaster I have been placed on and I never bought a ticket. It’s so unfair to think that if these statin drugs are actually at fault for all the horrible stories I have read and my own problems I’m having that no one will ever be held accountable for our disabilities. I’m a very hard worker, have never asked for handouts, put myself through college as a single parent and do not believe in missing work unless u are at deaths door; however I have to admit if my doctor or someone out there does not help me in some way to diagnosis whatever this is that’s taking my life from me then I will have no other choice than to quit work because I’m not gonna be able to walk much longer.

    I wish you all well and hope many of you have found ways to overcome this horrible attack on our bodies. Take Care!!

    • Harold

      Hello my name is Harold, I also just recently was changed from lipitor to crestor. Although lipitor did not cause me any problems, my cardiologist said lipitor is not working for me any longer (been taking since 1999) So he prescribed me crestor.

      When he told me he was switching me, he also told me to be aware of any thigh pain or shoulder pain. After just two 40mg (may have strength wrong) I was awakened the second night with pain so severe in my right outer thigh, it actually felt like someone stabbed me in the leg with a red hot fireplace poker or shot me in the leg. Now, I have never had neither of them happen to me, that’s what I figure would cause pain so severe.

      I stopped taking them and called my cardiologist office and told the nurse what was happening. She told me to stop them, and I told her that I already did. She then told me that I should never stop a medication without speaking to the doc. I then told her what doc had said to me, regarding the leg pain and it was a weekend so I waited till monday. The nightly pains continued for about a week after stopping crestor, plus they were now waking me up 2-3 times a night with that severe burning pain.

      Finally it stopped the severe burning pain, but for about two months now my right thigh feels like I have a bad sunburn when active, then at night when I am relaxing the thigh goes completely numb. Seems to be more than just my leg falling asleep on me. It feels like I’m rubbing my leather couch cushion, at least thats what it feels like to my fingertips. The thigh & the skin on it does not have any sensation of being touched until I get the leg moving, which is not easy when you have a leg that has no feeling in it. Very hard to walk ! Also, damn near all my joints in my body hurt, especially my knees and thumbs.

      My knuckle joints in my fingers also hurt and are weak. Pretty much I hurt from head to toe, and the nurse that I previously mentioned called back saying that the doc said that “IT MUST BE SOMETHING ELSE!” The pill would have been out of my system by now. This was 10 days after I originally called and was told to stop them. They had told me to call back in 10 days to let them know if the pain had stopped. That just irks my nerves, that it seems the doc is protecting the maker of crestor over his patient.

      So I didn’t mean this to be this long. I actually just wanted to ask if any of you still suffer from a statin, and if so, do you have any weakness in your legs, arms and the many joints we have in our body. Do you feel any pain in your knuckles/joints in hands ? So many questions and not enough answers or the doc is afraid of a lawsuit. I don’t have any plans on speaking to an attorney, I just want my strength back. All these people that wrote their stories on here really gets to me ! Why is this stuff still on the market ? I have seen that from 5-20% of people that take a statin will suffer some type of side effect caused by them. Someone please respond to me, if you still suffer these horrible side effects, no matter which statin you take or used to take. I would like to hear from you

  7. brenda

    I took pravastatin after a stint for a few days. Now have constant pain in both thighs. N now doctor asked me to try 2 days a week taking it. I have taken 2 days this week and now my leg pain is worse. Doctor insists is not from the drug. :(

    • Harry
      Las Cruces, NM

      Get a new doctor! I am also a victim who the Mayo Clinic diagnosed in about 1 hour. Your doc doesn’t understand what statins can do to your body.

      • Harold

        What did the Mayo clinic diagnosis you with ?

  8. Mary
    Wyandotte, MI 48192

    I had been on Crestor and experienced joint/muscle aches for months, not realizing the connection. When I saw the cardiologist, he suggested stopping the statin for a few weeks then starting back up 3 days a week. The bodily aches returned immediately so I stopped taking the med. Now two years later with my cholesterol 217, the doctor prescribed Lipitor.

    After 13 days of Lipitor 10 mg, I had to stop. I had aches, pain, headache, brain fog, extreme tiredness and weakness. I thought I had the flu. My CPK was 435. It is now 12 days after stopping the statin and my condition has not improved.

  9. Solomon
    New York

    Starting in 2010 my wife was prescribed Statins. By 2011 she was having problems sleeping, exercising, etc. Her PCP suspected Polymyositis and sent her for a biopsy in the fall of 2011. The biopsy was negative. The symptoms persisted and the PCP sent her to another “specialist” who ordered another biopsy.

    The result, WHICH WE DID NOT KNOW UNTIL MUCH LATER, was questionable. Nevertheless he ordered large doses of intravenous steroids. When she informed him that she was still having problems he replied in an email, “I’m short on clinic time. I will see what I and do (about seeing her personally), and get back to you. He didn’t follow up before she wound up in the ER unable to wake up or communicate. At first the ER doctors thought it was a stroke, but a biopsy of the lump in her brain revealed that she suffered from Listeria, a disease that may well never have had a serious effect if not for the immune compromising action of the large doses of steroids.

    For the last three plus years she has gone through dialysis, spent time on a ventilator, (We were told by the staff in SICU that she would probably not survive.) had a heart attack and spent the last three years on a feeding tube. During the last three years three neurologists looked at her original biopsy results and told us that they believe she never had polymyositis. It now appears that the whole myositis issue was brought on by the STATINS.

    Why didn’t anyone of the “PROFESSIONALS” question this at the time???? Now we are faced with learning to speak and walk all over again. She, who was VERY active prior to this, is now pretty much confined to a wheelchair and has virtually no speaking ability.

    It seems impossible that the insurance companies, who have probably paid something in excess of $ 3,000,000 to $ 4,000,00 in this instance alone have not forced the drug companies producing statins to label their product with a skull and crossbones! I would not recommend statin use to anyone!!

  10. Denise

    Hi, guys,
    I can’t help but see similarities in all these stories. My husband had a minor heart attack 9 years ago at the age of 65. he has always been a healthy hard worker his whole life. About 3 years ago he started just falling for no reason and also had great difficulty getting out of chairs. Last year he was diagnosed with IBM (Inclusion body myositis). Because of the sort of person I am, I have done research upon research upon research. When he went to the neurologist I was the one who suggested he be taken off statins. The “specialist” agreed. He was virtually told that nothing could be done: “Ciao. See you later, and it’s not that bad because you are 75. So by the time you will need a wheelchair you will be in your 80s. So that’s no big deal.”

    I found an expert in the field of IBM and emailed to ask her to take his case on. She did. I cannot tell you the improvement in my husband since coming off those disgusting money-making statins. He is on an auto-immune suppressant drug which, at the moment, is helping him so much. He can get out of chairs so much better without falling. I only hope he continues to improve. There is a new drug, hopefully in 2016, BYM338, that has high hopes for his disease.

    What I do know, and no doctor will convince me that it is not true, is that statins caused this, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Our doctor could have read so much about this but refused to acknowledge the problem.

  11. Jean Slater

    I had taken Lipitor for 2 years after I had quadruple bypass. I started getting muscle pain in shoulders, arms, and neck after about a year. I asked both my GP and cardiologist about these pains. One said I needed physical therapy and one said I wasn’t sleeping well. I decided to stop taking Lipitor after doing my own research on the Internet. 2 months later most of my pain is gone. I encourage people to stop taking statins as it only seems to cause problems. Doctors don’t always tell you the truth.

    • Terry Graedon

      Please discuss your symptoms with your doctor first, before discontinuing any drug, even a statin. Although we think statins are overprescribed, some people need them. Your doctor might be able to change your dose or switch you to a different drug–or let you know that the statin is just precautionary, not urgent.

    • Diane

      Is Mayo Clinic a good place to go if you’ve received a diagnosis of ALS? BTW my husband was taking statins.

  12. Ernest W.
    Sarasota, Florida

    I am a male 66 years old never smoked always have been active, self employed (shop owner, truck repair). I went for a physical a while back and was told by my very young doctor that my cholesterol was too high (total 240), he started me on 20mg astorvastatin. After about a week of taking these I thought I was having a gout attack all over my body, which I do suffer from occasionally, then I realized it was not my joints but my muscles were cramping.

    My thigh/calf muscle on my left leg were hurting so bad I had difficulty standing up and walking, this was more painful than any of my gout attacks, I do take allopurinol daily, but this cramp lasted for 4 days (it is still hurting somewhat at time of writing), obviously I stopped taking the statins as soon as I figured out what was going on. I got some relief from taking prednisone 5 mg which I keep on hand for any gout flare up. After reading all of these comments on line regarding the after effects of this drug, it confirmed everything I was feeling. I will try a more natural way of lowering my cholesterol with diet and exercise. Now I am convinced that there is some kind of monetary incentive program from the big drug companies for the doctors to prescribe this, after all $19 billion dollars a year goes a long way!

  13. Joan

    I read all above comments and find it shocking that the medical profession is so reluctant to “listen”. I experienced bad leg pains within two weeks of starting on atorvastatin. I stopped the tablet and symptoms improved but re-occurred 6 months later. I am diabetic , insulin dependant and also on el troxin for under-active thyroid . I found great relief when a friend gave me a few DICLAC X 75mg to try. Great relief and mobile again but GP says he cannot prescribe due to my being diabetic and possible kidney failure !! any suggestion most welcome

  14. Margaret
    Valley Stream,NY

    I was recently diagnosed with NECROTIZING MYOPATHY. A muscle biopsy confirmed it. I did take Lipitor (40mg) for over 10 years. I did have mild symptoms starting then (a little trouble walking upstairs) but I attributed it to just getting older. I’m 70 now. My doctor, the director of ASL program at Beth Israel-Mount Sinai Hospital, told me this disease is caused by statin use. This form is rarer than IBM and Polymytosis and was only named in 2007.

  15. Hans D
    Cottam Ontario

    My Doctor put me on Lipitor in July 2007 as a preventive for cholesterol. Two years later I became really tired, severe leg cramps, weird dreams, and horrible nightmares. After talking to a friend of mine he asked me if I knew that Lipitor can cause bad muscle problems, after reading the print out I quit Lipitor in July 2014, after 4 months the dreams and nightmares and leg cramps are gone. But now I am stuck forever with tiredness and severe leg muscle problems. I am off all my medication from my Doctor. I am really depressed over this.

  16. Robert

    I am in the exact same situation from Crestor and told my MD for months I was suffering, and it was systemic issue and not muscle aches from golf, lifting and walking. 6 years later I still have muscle pain with minor exercise. Like you said, medical people don’t even believe. All my siblings have the same thing from statins.

    • Kristy

      There is a new at home (you receive at home and mail in) diagnostic test out called StatinSmartTM that tells you if you are at higher risk of getting muscle aches and pains. 25% of the population is at higher risk of experiencing muscle pain and this test can tell you if you are one of the one in four. It costs $99 + $12 shipping, but could save you months or years of finding the right statin. Check it out:

  17. Ron
    Caldwell, Idaho

    6 weeks ago my doctor convinced me I should start on Lipitor 10 milligrams. Years before I was encouraged to take simvastatin and stopped it on my own after 8 days of really intense muscle cramping pain.

    But this time with Lipitor I decided to give it a real chance and for the first week of aching muscles I just attributed to it the kind of work I was doing. By the second week I thought I had the flu. Terrible body aches, headache and chills. When I realized that I did not have the flu, I stopped Lipitor. I took it for 18 days.
    That was 3 weeks ago and I am still suffering with, myalgias, headache, chills and profound weakness. I was in the emergency room tonight because I was feverish.

    The body aches persist the weakness has gotten worse and I spent the entire month of September sitting in a chair looking out the window when in fact I’m an incredibly active person who’s always been considered young for their age.

    Now I feel incredibly old, and walk like I am 90.

    I ended up in the emergency room today because my doctor suggested that I go there to get a differential diagnosis on why I should be still having so much problem and an unexplained fever. The unexplained fever was explained because I have an otitis media and that develop with an ear ache a few days ago. I was put on antibiotics for my earache, which was my discharge diagnosis.

    I couldn’t help but press the ER doc, as I have been an ER nurse for 40 years, as to how that ear infection of two days duration could have anything to do with explaining the severity of my other symptoms since taking Lipitor. Incredible soaking night sweats myalgia and weakness that doesn’t seem to be getting better. The ER doc let me know that’s not his job, to go beyond considering my earache as the culprit.

    Excuse me, weren’t you listening to my unexplained, weakness and other symptoms since the second week of taking Lipitor. I’ve been tachycardic for 4 weeks. Elevated blood pressure. Oddly enough all Lab appeared normal! There is no other explanation for why I should feel the way I do. It has got to be the Lipitor. I have always been considered as an active person. This has never happened to me before. The fact that nothing else was found shows that there must be some relationship to the muscle issues and weakness and statins. But for some odd reason the docs are reluctant to blame the statins.

    I can not get by in a day without maximum dosage of motrin. So I started the antibiotic for my earache, will take CoQ10 and plenty of fluids on the hopes that I will start to feel better soon

    I’ve always been a muscular guy despite never working out. I lost 20 lbs since stopping the Lipitor, I wasn’t heavy to start with and I believe from the looks of me that much of that lost weight is probably muscle mass.

    I just want to get my good sleep back and start feeling better

    Caldwell, Idaho

    • Jan

      There is now a genetic blood test that will determine your ability to tolerate the statins. I, like you, had severe muscle pain… they ran the test and I am now confirmed sensitive to Zocor (40mg). I took myself off from it 8 months ago and still experience chronic muscle spasms, knots, etc.
      Please have them investigate the test.
      BTW FDA has now a warning out about 80mg Zocor/simvastatin to be a cause of muscle issues.
      best of luck!

  18. Frances
    BC Canada

    I have recently been experiencing weakness in my muscles, and have had knee and leg pain for some years now. I experienced very painfull leg cramps many times, trying a lot of suggestions as to how to eliminate leg cramps. What seemed to work best was to be sure and drink a lot of water and to take magnesium supplements.
    By chance I read something in a newspaper column about muscle pain and weakness being associated with the use of statins and I googled the same on the internet. Found this website. Extremely shocked!
    I have been on, first, Crestor and then switched to Lipitor (generic). A year or so after I started with Crestor, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, for which I was prescribed Metformin, I am now also taking gliclacide.) I gained a lot of weight and in spite of diet and exercise have been unable to lose it. I used to walk on the treadmill, on the incline for at least 1 hr per day, but gradually my legs became so weak that I had to stop walking. I became so tired and weak that it has been getting more and more difficult to just get through a regular days work. I never dreamed that my experience could be associated with statin use but I certainly now believe it does. I had heard something about CoQ10 being required with statins and I started taking 250Mg of CoQ when I started to statins. My doctor never said anything about side effects and did not recommend the CoQ10. I started this on my own and really think that is why my muscles have not been as bad as some of the stories here. I have been on statins now about 12 years but I really feel dreadful now. My muscles, most noticeably legs, but others as well, are like they are mush. I daren’t sit in a bathtub or on the floor, I’de never get up. I need to pull with my arms when climbing stairs, and my legs nearly collapse under me. Exercise used to improve my muscle tone but not anymore. Working the muscles does nothing to improve them, and my doctor is really at me to exercise more. Huh!!!!

  19. Laura
    Lynchburg, Virginia

    My 60 year old husband had the widow-maker heart attack in May 2013. He was put on 20 mg atorvastatin, this was eventually increased to 40 mg. By November of 2014 he began to feel a vague weakness. In December 2014 he became very ill. In hindsight we think it was rhabdomyolysis. I forced him to the doctors in January of 2015. They noticed elevated liver enzymes but discounted his increasing weakness. They thought his liver might be a problem.

    He became unable to rise from a chair, he developed an odd waddling walk, losing more mobility and function weekly. We were given the run around by a gastroenterologist and finally just took him to the ER at UVA Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia. After extensive tests he was diagnosed with a unique presentation of polymyositis, CK levels of 39,000, necrotizing features.

    Now, one month later, he has shown positive for the statin antibody. We remain hopeful he will regain some of his lost function, only because of the excellent care and treatment he is receiving at UVA. Lipitor has had a devastating effect on our family. I don’t know how they sleep at night knowing the damage that is laid at their door.

  20. Diane

    I’m 70 and had been taking Lipitor for several decades. I developed type2 diabetes and was told that it was because of the way I ate. No dietary changes seemed to make a difference. I developed a resistance to erxercise. I knew that my thigh muscles were weakening. I had trouble walking for any length of time or particularly on an upgrade. Any exertion left me weak. I developed heart problems that were never quite diagnosed or understood. No doctor ever had a clue as to what was really going on. I learned about the link between Lipitor and type2 diabetes last year. My doctor laughed at me when I told him. I stopped Lipitor and now, a year later, I have normal A1C’s. Now, I’ve just been signed up by hospice, but after reading this, I am going to take CoQ10 to see if it helps my muscles get stronger.

  21. josh r.

    I took one statin 40 mg 4 weeks ago, and 2 hours after I got cramp in my finger, and then I keep getting spasms in my head, arms and legs. I’m very dizzy all the time, even when lying down I get vertigo, my muscles are weak but they won’t stop spasming, I have a fast heart rate and skipped beats, which were making me panic, so I went to the er, and they said my heart rhythm was abnormal and kept me in for three days, done a lot of tests, and there is nothing physically wrong with my heart, but it goes up to 100-110 when standing or 120 when talking.

    They admit there is something wrong rhythmically, but it’s the spasms and the weakness, when I ran on the treadmill they made me do, they were alarmed at first because when I stood up on it my heart rate was 110, it got up to 200 bpm, just on decent jog for 12 minutes, I am usually very very fit, when I finished I instantly got a wave of cold sweat and had to sit down feeling faint, this is so unusual, but they said it was fine. I don’t know what to do, can anyone help. why won’t this stop?

  22. Carol

    I was put on statins to reduce about 2000. I was also told to take COQ10 to prevent joint cramps. Shortly after taking the statin, Lipitor, I developed Diabetes, and severe weakness in my legs. I did not make the connection to the statin but gave up my exercise program and switch to aquacise. I gained weight. From time to time over the years I tried to stop taking the stains but my cholesterol would go up and the Doctor would put me back on it. We finally agreed on a lower dose. The leg weakness returned. I was told I needed spine surgery, which I had. :( . The leg weakness returned again. This time it occurred in both legs and arms. Exercise was painful but I pushed through it. One night I awoke in severe pain. I could not move my legs. I went to two orthopedics who ruled out any orthopedic issues. Then I came across the information on the statins and suspect that this is what has been causing my problems for the past 15 years. This is very disturbing. I am going to stop the statins and speak to my doctor about alternatives. Any suggestions?

  23. Joe

    I was in my early 40’s, started zocor at my docters suggestion. I immediately complained of extreme upper body weakness. Think it took days to realize the same objects i moved at work felt 10 times heavier. My doc said that is impossible, not a side effect of zocor. Probably was early time of distribution. Being an active person, carpenter and tennis player, I began to pull leg muscles at least twice a year, to the point of limping. I was in PT all the time. Doc says, keep taking zocor. after 5 years, I finally saw an article in the new haven register, saying that zocor can cause muscle damage in some patients. I called the doc, he said get off for two weeks and call me. three days later . I thought I was cured. But the muscle weakness never left. I ended up with torn rotators, replaced knees, detached bicep tendon. . I wonder how much of that was zocor related. But the real problem is, at 61, I am like a human jelly fish. My muscles cannot recoup after a workout and i am weak beyond my years. Sure they say age is the problem. But being a person that always had extremely strong legs and average upper body strength, I now have always tired legs, weak, and minimum upper body strength. After 5 years of that doc and zocor, three more years to follow, and the doc constantly wanted me back on it, I switched doctors. I often wondered if doc 1 had stock or stipends from zocor. Colesterol can be controlled in so many ways, I ruined my muscular system for nothing and i have to live with this every days for many decades. Nobody cares, nobody believes. But I know. I keep active and will keep looking for ways to combat this condition. I am about to embark of protein shakes, as that is need for muscle recovery in normal people. i am in a constant state of muscles not recovering.

    • Robert

      I am in the exact same situation from Crestor and told my MD for months I was suffering and it was systemic issue and not muscle aches from golf, lifting and walking. 6 years later I still have muscle pain with minor exercise. Like you said, medical people don’t even believe. All my siblings have the same thing from statins.

  24. GREG

    I have been on Statins for 20 years starting at 10 mil then 80mil The FDA band Doctors using 80 mils down to 40 mils Everybody i know first side effect is leg cramps in the calf ,as soon as you come off Statins the cramps stop .Australia New Zealand and UK are starting to banned Statins
    The new CP receptor drugs coming ( i am on test with pfiser ) my LDL dropped so low they told me to only have one injection a month My side effect is numb leg calf’s now i worried that this will cause ALS ,but first i will check for the lack of B12 for Neuropathy as the circulation is good .The new CP drugs coming work again in the liver opening up receptors to remove LDL from your blood in a different way. One should drink a full glass of pure water before bed believe me i tried every wierd thing for cramps(this works) plus it been proven your body removes body fluids at night also your will not have a heart attack by drinking water at night just my thoughts which might help some one

    • Patty

      I am experiencing a lot of muscle and joint pain after taking Lipitor for one month. I had been walking for over an hour each evening, but began to feel ill and extremely fatigued, limping home from pain. My arm muscles are very sore and weak. I have never experienced this before. I am very fatigued also, and must rest every couple of hours.

      For years, my doctor has been pushing me to get on the statin drugs. My bad cholesterol is only slightly elevated. All the other numbers are excellent.

      I’m age 64, retired from teaching. This past couple of months, I have been substitute teaching and I find myself totally exhausted upon arriving home in the evening, going straight to bed.

      I’m hoping that by stopping the drug after one month, I will recover some of my muscle health, I’ve been off the drug for two weeks, and I seem to be getting worse.

  25. Holly

    I went through many months of debilitating unexplained leg, knee and foot pain. I had some hip problem before starting the statin (atorvastatin), but this also got much worse. It would get so bad that just getting up out of a chair, would be excruciating. I would have to stand there like 5 minutes just to prepare myself to take the first few steps. I was using a cane and wearing a knee brace. Had deep throbbing pain in my big toe, burning tearing pain down my IT band. Orthopedic doc found some minor arthritis, but nothing to explain this level of pain. Taking gobs of painkiller, trying soaking in epsom salt, foam roller, orthotics in my shoes….I was going to a chiropractor for therapy, which helped minimally, but I think the effects of the statin finally wore off.

    I had taken them for a few months when all this started, I quit for 2 weeks, still had the pain, so doc said statin couldn’t be the cause. Started taking again, things progressed. Quit again on my own. After I was off of them for about 4 months was when things started to really turn around for me. I feel so much better now. I cannot believe the difference. I was beginning to feel totally hopeless. Nothing was improving at all, the pain made no sense! I think the docs thought I was crazy.

    Look at some of the talks available on youtube about the cholesterol myth and the faulty science that they are using to keep bolstering the case for statin use. It’s terrifying, I hope the concerns and evidence will be brought to light via the mainstream press, so something is finally done about these greedy drug companies.

  26. Elmer
    Ottawa, Kansas

    Was prescribed a minimum lipitor dose after a stent, doctor claimed my cholesterol was ‘borderline’ high. After a year a half, standing up became difficult from thigh weakness. Knee pains added to the confusion, local doctor (aware of my meds) claimed age, (55) arthritis as cause, advised 12 ibuprofen daily. Bottle says 6 MAX daily, so I never exceeded 8. Ears now ringing and nauseus, I backed off to 4 per day. Mentioned this to my pharmacist, who first advised stopping the lipitor. A month later, deep thigh aches/ weakness remain, improvement slow but obvious. Seeing a more ‘natural ‘ doctor for muscle supplement suggestions. Worked as a construction electrician 30 years, avid cyclist into my 30s, had very healthy legs- til now. IMHO, strong evidence that these statins cause damage, perhaps by working TOO well. I read that cholesterol is used for muscle repair, blocking that appears to inhibit proper healing.

  27. Marie
    United Kingdom

    In February 2011 I had a heart attack, a blocked artery and was put on Simvastatin with no warning of side effects. After a couple of weeks I began to have pains in my arm muscles, did some research, was horrified at what I had read and stopped taking them. Doctor agreed. I began to lose weight which I was pleased about as I was 13st. 9lbs. By February 2012 I was down to 11st. 7lbs, went to Australia for a month, ate like a horse and came back half a stone lighter. Then a tight band began under my boobs, along with bloating, fatigue, memory loss and fuzziness. Doctor diagnosed IBS. Didn’t agree as I only had one symptom. No cramps. I finally made the connection after a great deal of research, with sugar being the culprit and statin induced myopathy. I had all the symptoms.
    I have now stopped taking all prescription medication and instead take CQ10,Omega fish oils, garlic capsules and magnesium. I eat a lot of chicken and vegetables, homemade soup, as there seems to be sugar in everything. Fruit and potatoes also seem to be a problem.
    Most of the time I have it under control and function reasonably well. I am now 9st. 4lbs. and continue to eat like a horse but thankfully I am not in pain.
    How any doctor can prescribe these life changing pills without warning is beyond me or official websites claim there isn’t a problem when we are proof that there certainly is.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.