a foot above several upright thumb tacks

The following comment was posted to this Web site on Dec. 29, 2009 by Ann H. We found it so powerful that we wanted to make sure others have a chance to read it, vote and comment if so inclined.

A couple of cautions first. Some folks at very high risk of heart disease may have to continue taking statins regardless of side effects. No one should ever stop taking a statin without medical oversight. That being said, however, the quality of one’s life is important. Exercise, for example, is crucial for good health. This person’s experience puts a lot of things into perspective. We welcome your feedback.

The People’s Pharmacy

Date: December 29, 2009

I am 63 and have struggled with high cholesterol for years. It seems to be a hereditary problem in my family for the most part as I follow a healthy diet. I have been on and off Lipitor for years and at different dosages. At one time, I was put on Crestor and after taking 13 pills could barely walk!

Nerve Problems

A year ago, I was back on Lipitor and began to experience numbness and tingling in my hands and feet. Just before Christmas, I discovered that I could not feel hot and cold but did have all sorts of itching, burning and shooting pains in my feet that were making it hard to sleep or even tolerate shoes.

I went to a neurological center for testing. A pin prick test showed that the problem was present half way to my knees in both legs and in both hands. Initially they felt strongly that I was probably an undiagnosed diabetic. Blood work ruled out diabetes and other scary stuff, like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ALS and MS. An EMG [electromyogram] ruled out neuropathy in spite of the symptoms. I asked if it could in any way be from Lipitor and they said there was a “documented connection”.

Getting Off Lipitor

I chose to stop the Lipitor again. When I returned to them a month later, I reported an improvement in the symptoms and retesting with a pin proved it. We agreed on a wait and see stance for two months. After that time passed I felt that I was 85% back to normal! My regular physician finally agreed that I should not take Lipitor or any statin again.

One year later, I still have some very minor nerve damage but am elated by the turnaround. My energy level has soared and now I actually feel like walking for exercise and do so regularly. I feel younger, more flexible. Next I tried not taking an anti-anxiety medication that had been prescribed for the heart palpitations and breathing issues that I also had experienced while taking Lipitor. To my surprise those symptoms were also gone.

I am a different person today from one year ago. I am so glad that I decided that my quality of life was more important than being afraid of dying because of the high cholesterol issue.

Gradual Onset

I had read a little suggestion in People’s Pharmacy in the newspaper that made me question if the Lipitor was causing my problem. One would expect that a problem would become evident in a short period of time. Not so with me. Looking back, I now believe that the problem was coming on slowly for at least two years.

Thank you and your newspaper column for setting me on the right path to true health.

Ann H.


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  1. Doreen

    Wow! I just left my doctors office complaining about burning feet, stiff joints, headache, heart palpitations. She took me off of Lipitor… almost reluctantly and wants to substitute with Crestor. I feel like “no” I don’t want it. I want to feel normal again. I will take the risk of hereditary high cholesterol.

    Thanks all for sharing… I am not crazy. My doctor never acknowledged that my symptoms were known side effects.

  2. Paula R.
    New Jersey

    I am so glad that I found the rest of you folks! I always thought that my leg and feet pain and burning were coming from my back until one doctor decided to take me off of Lipitor because he wanted me on Crestor instead. THE FIRST DAY – mind you – when I stopped the Lipitor, I had a full night’s sleep and no pain! This lasted for the two weeks that I was off of Lipitor.

    He then put me on Crestor. The FIRST night – very, very bad pain in feet and legs. Threw the bottle away. He tried Levalo. Same thing. We then tried taking a very low dose of Crestor every other day. Pain began to “sneak” back up on me after a week and a half. Went back to my original Bottom Line: I am no longer going to take a statin. I just hope that my burning feet will subside because I am a track walker and a swimmer. AND I’m going back to eating grapefruit which I love and missed!
    Thanks all for sharing your experience. It helped me a lot. I don’t often do this online.

  3. Kathy

    It has now been 3 weeks since I was examined by the Rheumatologist for side effects from Atorvastatin. I wish I could say I am better but I am not. As long as I stay warm the symptoms are bearable. My hands and feet continue to feel cold and slightly numb. I have now been off the Atorvastatin 14 weeks and my symptoms continue.

    The Rheumatologist told me it could take a year for the drug to completely leave my liver. During the last blood draw, which was 4 weeks after discontinuing the medicine, my liver enzymes were still elevated 3 times the value of before beginning Atorvastatin. I shudder to think what this medicine would have done to my liver had I continued to take it as my primary care doctor suggested.

    Also, women need to be aware that Atorvastatin will alter hormone replacement therapy. It completely negated the HRT in my body. Even though I continued to take my HRT each night, symptoms of menopause returned in a vengeance.

    • Kathy

      Just want to give everyone an update regarding Atorvastatin and the side effects that medicine hit me with. It has now been one year since I was prescribed Atorvastatin. My symptoms began about 8 weeks after being prescribed the medicine. I didn’t relate the side effects to the medicine until I had been on the medicine over 4 months. I have been advised it may take one full year for the medicine to leave my liver. I have had a miserable past 10 months. I continue to experience what is referred to as “fake Lupus with Raynauds Disease”. It has been a very long past year. I have been able to lower my total cholesterol by diet and exercise though but the numbers are still not as low as the doctor would like.

  4. sandy

    My poor little sister could hardly walk after Dr. upped her statin meds. I asked to see her med list, googled them, and pin-pointed it to her statins. Suggested she get off of this dangerous money-maker for big pharma. I got her 200 mg of coq10. She took one in the morning and one in the evening. Within two weeks we were out shopping together. God Bless you all, and do your own research before being led by the nose.

  5. Kathy

    Just wanted to give everyone an update regarding my health concerns. I saw the Rheumatologist yesterday, April 11, 2018, for Raynaud’s type symptoms. Even though all of my symptoms started after being placed on Atorvastatin in September 2017, the doctor refused to believe the numbness in feet, whole body cold sensation, hands cramping and cold as ice, post nasal drip, headaches, etc., were related to the Atorvastatin.

    When the blanching of my fingertips began 12 weeks after the medicine it was then I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s secondary to an autoimmune disorder. Hence, the referral to the Rheumatologist. I have now been off the Atorvastatin for 10.5 weeks. The feet are some better but the coldness in the hands and the intolerance to anything cold continues.

    After a thorough physical examination and review of blood work drawn in January and February the Rheumatologist diagnosed me with drug-induced Raynaud’s NOT an autoimmune disorder. The Rheumatologist admitted she had heard of Atorvastatin causing Raynaud’s but had never had a patient with this side effect. And this is a Rheumatologist associated with Wake Forest Medical Center. She also informed me that while the medicine will leave my blood stream in short order, that is not the case with the organs. She expects it to take close to 6 months for the medicine to totally be out of my body. She even informed me she has seen it take a year or more for some people. I am once again hopeful that what I’m being told is true and that I’ll be back to my old self once again.

    As for my cholesterol I haven’t a clue how the diet, exercise, losing weight will pan out but my blood pressure is excellent. And, I’ve decided I think I’ll just take my chances with the elevated LDL. And, lastly, I did report this to the FDA. Hopefully, someone else will be helped by me doing so.

  6. Gloria
    United States

    I have been taking 10 mg Crestor for 10 years. While 40 mg was first prescribed, I could hardly walk and the Crestor was reduced to 10 mg. About 7 years ago I started having balance problems and it was found that I had some neuropathy in my feet and legs. It has progressed and the second EMG shows that the neuropathy has worsened. So now I am on gabapentin (for the pain) and Crestor. After just learning that statins could be causing this, I am ready to stop the Crestor. I am going to begin a regimen of alpha lipoic acid which is supposed to help both the cholesterol and neuropathy. To what degree is unsure to me.

    • Kathy

      I too have started a regimen of Fish oil and Alpha Lipoic Acid for the decreased sensation in hands and feet. The response to exposure to cold is what is most troubling for me at the present time. I was on Lipitor for 8 weeks when I began to notice that something just wasn’t right in my feet. Just a pin prick type of feeling and then a definite slight loss of sensation. The same began in my hands also. Within 4 weeks my symptoms progressed to losing color in my hands and feet when exposed to cold. I couldn’t even wash my hands in cool water without my fingertips turning the color of chalk.

      It wasn’t until I read about all the various side effects that I questioned if this was Lipitor related. I have now been off the Lipitor for 22 days and see no difference in symptoms.

      I started the fish oil and ALA regimen 2 weeks ago. I will try to control my cholesterol through diet, exercise and supplements versus Lipitor. My doctor wants me to return for check up after being off the Lipitor 30 days. Has anyone else had these symptoms, and if so, was there any improvement after the statin medication was discontinued? Specifically how long did it take to see improvement? I don’t want to spend money on diagnostic testing if I just need to wait this out. I have a $3000 deductible and need to know what tests are important to have and which ones can wait. Thank you for any assistance anyone can give me. In the meantime I’ll keep taking the ALA and Fish oil and pray for guidance.

      • Kathy

        I returned to the MD this week for complaints of coldness in hands and feet and an abnormal response to anything cold. I have been tentatively diagnosed with Raynaud’s Disease. 11 different blood tests were ordered to check for auto-immune disorders, inflammation, thyroid, etc. MD does not feel my symptoms have anything to do with being prescribed Atorvastatin in Sept 2017.

        I was only taking this drug for 9 weeks when I first noticed pins and needle sensation in feet and abnormal response to cold in my hands. I discontinued the Atorvastatin on Jan 24, 2018. I can honestly say I am no worse but not really any better after discontinuing the statin. MD is referring me to a rheumatologist for further evaluation and testing even though preliminary ANA and ESR blood work are completely normal. Has anyone else had symptoms such as this and if so, how long was it before they noticed any difference in their symptoms after discontinuing the statin?

        • Kathy

          Just had to share this info. My family knows the issues I am experiencing with numbness, tingling, fatigue, cold hands/feet, etc and the concern of whether this is related to Atorvastatin or another health concern entirely. Today my brother called to ask that I please speak with a co-worker of his that was experiencing many of the same symptoms I was. Imagine my surprise when this man related many of the same complaints I’ve had and his feelings of hopelessness of ever feeling warm inside again. One of my first questions to him was if he was taking cholesterol lowering medication.

          He was prescribed Atorvastatin in 2016 and has been suffering with achey joints, muscle pains, fatigue, whole body coldness, “freezing” hands and feet for months. I had been on the Atorvastatin only 8-9 weeks when I noticed changes in my hands and feet circulation and sensation. I just find this too much of a coincidence to not believe our symptoms are related to being prescribed Atorvastatin. My doctor called with the results of all the blood work obtained this week and no evidence of autoimmune disorders or diabetes or vitamin deficiencies to explain my symptoms. However, I am being referred to a rheumatologist for further testing for Raynaud’s Disease.

          • Kathy

            Just a quick follow up as to my symptoms and MD recommendation. I have now been off the Atorvastatin 6 weeks. I am seeing no improvement in the coldness experienced in my hands/fingers but some improvement in the decrease in sensation in my feet. Hot flashes appear to be less but itchiness of skin and post nasal drip are the same, as is the achiness in my knees. A second round of blood work demonstrated no abnormalities except in my lipid panel.

            Found it very interesting that after 4.5 months of Atorvastatin my HDL went noticeably down, triglycerides went up and LDL stayed essentially the same. Total cholesterol went down a total of 4 points. Just unbelievable. I have lost 4 pounds, am eating healthier and exercising, exercising. Don’t know how much all of this will help towards lowering the cholesterol as I didn’t really need to lose weight (am 5 feet 2 inches tall and weigh 114.8 pounds), I own a farm with my brother and walk every day checking cows, fence lines, etc. But MD said lose 5 pounds, exercise 30 minutes every day and eat more steamed veggies and fish. I’ve been doing this for 6 weeks now with no change in the numbers and continued cold hands.

            The referral to the Rheumatologist is a joke as the most recent apt I could get is not until June. More than 3.5 months after MD tentatively diagnoses Raynauds Disease secondary to autoimmune disorder. Obviously no one else has had symptoms such as I since there have been no other postings; not even by People’s Pharmacy. So, maybe it isn’t the Atorvastatin but sure is unusual that a male co-worker of my brother’s would have almost the same symptoms.

  7. Kathy

    Has anyone had a side effect from Lipitor in which their hands and feet become cold and lose color in the tips? I started having a decrease in sensation in my feet and hands approximately 8 weeks after beginning Lipitor. The coldness in peripheral extremities worsened over the next 4 weeks to the point I noticed I was having trouble grasping objects with my hands when exposed to cold.

    I saw my doctor when pins and needle sensations began and when it was obvious I couldn’t be out in the cold. Hands would become totally numb and fingertips chalk white. Lipitor was discontinued 2.5 weeks ago but MD does not feel my symptoms are side effects from Lipitor. I am no worse but am no better either after being off Lipitor for 17 days. Has anyone ever had anything like this while on Lipitor? And if so, how long until they noticed an improvement?

    • Barbara
      Avon, CT

      I was on Lipitor and had the exact same things happened to me. They sent me for epidural shots in my neck, tests, all sorts of stuff, never mentioning that it could be the Lipitor. I stopped it, was put on prednisone for the inflammation, and in weeks I was so much better. After 3 months they insisted Crestor was much easier to take. It isn’t. I had the same symptoms, and the dr. suggested a CT scan, and other tests. I asked him to give me a month off off Crestor, and if it isn’t clear I will go for the scan. I know they are the same symptoms. My whole arm and hand has been numb and tingling for months. I am off it for 5 days so far, and there is a slight improvement in pain, but the numbness is still there. Be your own advocate. You know your body. I do believe it is the statins that are causing this miserable quality of life issue.

      • Kathy

        Barbara are you feeling any better? I haven’t had any more symptoms of fingertips turning white but I’m double and sometimes triple gloving my hands and bundling up as if I lived in Alaska versus NC. The weather is turning warmer here which does help. I feel the numbness and decrease in sensation is slightly improved in my feet and they don’t tend to get as cold as my hands do. I have now been off the Atorvastatin (Lipitor) for 9 weeks. I had hoped to see much more improvement by now if my symptoms were side effects of the medicine. Please keep me posted as to how you are doing.

      • Susan

        Please have your doc check your thyroid levels. I had fingers that felt like dead cold sticks and always cold feet, as well as tingling in both feet and legs. Neurologist said that it’s not neuropathy or diabetes. After getting thyroid meds correct my fingers feel normal, but have decided to cut back from 40 mg. Crestor to 20 to see if that helps the tingling because no doctor seems to offer up any other solution.

  8. *Sheila

    I have nerve damage from long term use of a statin drug to lower cholesterol. I was wondering if anyone has any advice on if it can be reversed or slowed naturally.

  9. Dave

    I have been taking Crestor for twenty years for congestive heart failure. Eighteen months ago I developed pain and numbness in my left leg, not the right leg. I have been to two neurologist and two orthopedics specialist. The last one injected steroids in my lower back. The pain is still there. Standing does not increase the pain. My back is not painful. Sitting causing serve pain in the back of my upper leg. Could Crestor be causing this problem after so many years?

  10. Netty

    I was on Lipitor for 3 months and then developed numbness in my toes on the left foot which disappear if I sit down for 5 minutes. I googled “cause of numbness in feet and hands” and I came across your article I showed it to my GP and stopped taking Lipitor I was eventually referred to a Neurologist and had a Nerve Conduction Test but they couldn’t find the cause I was told it was to do with my Spine (age related wear and tare) as I am 73 years of age I have had to accept their diagnosis but I am sure Lipitor was the cause but no one will admit to this I still have the problem but luckily it is only the left foot which is affected. Thank you for your article on Ann’s Story I did show this to my GP but she didn’t comment on this.

  11. RENEE

    august 1, 2017
    i was put on ATORVASTATTIN CALCIUM 40MG TAB in july of 2017. i was on this horrible medicine for eight days. on day nine, i stopped taking this bad medicine.
    first day of taking this medicine: a throbbing bulls eye pain on the front of my leg and below the knee. at the same time, a throbbing bulls eye pain on the entire inside of my right arm. pain level was 7.5 – 8.0.
    could not pee for eight days. no bladder infection at all. fluid retention was bad. could not bend my fingers or toes. could not find my ankles. first time i had huge large bags under my eyes that felt wiggle.

    my left foot was 80% numb.
    could not sleep for the eight days i was on ATORVASTATIN CALCIUM 40MG TAB.
    i was reading outside and this scary feeling of dread came over me. this lasted two hours. this happened one other time.

    day 9: did not take the stupid medicine and started peeing right away. kept peeing and peeing and peeing until being off the stupid medicine for four days. my urine was a medium very dark color.
    when i was off the stupid medicine for four days, my left leg and left foot came back to life and came back to being normal. the bags under my eyes went away after peeing so much. i found my ankles and could bend my toes and fingers. i still have the bulls eye throbbing pain in my right arm.
    my doctor told me to contact mental health for pills to calm me down. he also said that ATORVASTATIN CALCIUM 40MG TAB does not have any side effects on people. i was also told to consume more water to make my urine a clear color. i drink close to 109 ounces of water each day. it is a little higher because of hot and humid weather. thanks for letting me have a say in how i was feeling while on this stupid medicine. Renee

  12. Kathy

    Several years ago I took three different statins, all with the same side effects -pain,numbness and tingling of my feet. I had a difficult time falling asleep and even used ice packs on my feet at night. When I told my cardiologist about these side effects I was sure he would think I was “nuts”, but luckily he was aware of these possible side effects. I’ve been off statins for years and still has some symptoms but not nearly as severe. Keeping an eye on my cholesterol if I do need to take something again it won’t be a statin. This blog was very helpful and comforting to know I’m not alone with these side effects of statins

  13. Sharon

    My husband took Lipitor to make his ‘good’ cholesterol number better. Three weeks and he couldn’t walk his legs, arms and back hurt so bad. Three months now and still having pain in the legs. Anyone know of a solution He tried CoQ10, some relief!

  14. Roscoe
    Cook Islands

    I truly appreciate this blog post. Much thanks again. Will read on…

    • Larry H

      I use red yeast rice a herb and slow realise niacin one a day if each. Brings it ft down in few months.

  15. Ann
    New York State

    I was put on a dose of 40mg Lipitor and couldn’t stay awake. I also had back and leg pain. My doctor reduced the dose to 20 mg. I was better but not a whole lot. Took Lipitor for almost 3 months. Doctor changed me over to Crestor10 mg. The pain had been so intense and then the tops of my feet started itching and I scratched the tops so much. Doctor said to stop taking Crestor for 6 months. Had been taking for 1 month. Tops of my feet still itchy most of the time. Lipid levels have always been very good. I passed out at the hair salon and their protocol was to call EMT’s who took me to the hospital. Doctors said I had cardiomyopathy and needed a defibrillator and all these meds. These last 5 months have been hell. I’ve never felt so bad in my life. Any suggestions????

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