Q. Recently I have developed a lot of pain in the muscles of my legs. I took glucosamine for two years for joint pains. During that time my cholesterol went from 190 to 247 with no change in my diet.

I was put on a statin medication to bring the cholesterol reading down, and that’s when the pain and weakness started in my muscles. Do statins cause weakness? I am no longer on glucosamine, but I don’t know which way to turn.

A. Now that you are no longer taking glucosamine, you may not need the statin. Many readers have told us that their cholesterol went up while they used this arthritis remedy and came down after they stopped taking it.

Here are links to some stories not unlike yours.

Ask your doctor if you can stop the cholesterol medicine. Be sure to mention your muscle pain and weakness, which could signal a serious statin side effect. Virtually all statins (atorvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin, etc) can cause muscle pain and weakness.

Some physicians recommend that people taking statins such as Lipitor, Pravachol or Zocor take Coenzyme Q10. These cholesterol-lowering drugs deplete the body of this crucial vitamin-like substance, and supplementing CoQ10 may help protect the muscles from damage.

Unfortunately, CoQ does not work for everyone. People who experience muscle discomfort should notify their physician. Statins may not be appropriate. Learn more about how to control cholesterol without statins in our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health. It can be found in our People’s Pharmacy Store along with books that provide much more detail about heart healthy options.

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  1. Margaret M.

    I am already taking statins and my physio recommended Glocosamine/Chondrotin for knee pain, will this interfere with the work of the statin?

  2. Rocket Scientist

    Never did get back on glucosamine. If it takes more than a week to clear out, I would be concerned that it is not inducing a false reading but is actually increasing LDL. But – I don’t know a thing about the test. I did see a study that found 11% of people experience a significant LDL increase when taking glucosamine.

  3. jm

    Just wondering I have read your comments about glucosamine and chondroitin as giving a false reading on a couple of sites to do with high cholesterol. When you say go off them a week before your test. Have you actually tried this and it works or do you need to be off them for 3 months as others have said. It is just that I know the glucosamine and chondroitin got rid of my frozen shoulder and all pain in my knees as disappeared since being on it but have high cholesterol and would like to try what you said if you have actually tested it.

  4. PO

    Cholesterol levels have mainly to do with liver function, period. The liver is responsible for up to 70-80% of your total cholesterol. Medicine has no measurable test for liver bile congestion, etc. Most tests only measure liver damage by an elevation in the liver enzymes. Yet, bile congestion and liver function sluggishness is “real”. Nothing naturally lowers cholesterol or raises it unless it has a direct affect on the liver in some way. Fats in the diet do not obstruct the flow of bile, etc., in my field. It’s the acids and sour foods and sour beverages that do, in many people genetically.
    O’Brien, CAYP, CCH, AADP, AHG

  5. LRE

    I’ve read that beta glucans and flax seed can help lower cholesterol levels. Do you have any info on that?

  6. s.d.

    this is SD, I want to add I am 79, 5’2 and I weigh 132lbs. I can’t seem to lose wt. I take Thyroid med. (Synthroid) and it helps some. I eat pretty good but probably too much carbs! add this to my other info on cholesterol and triglycerides.

  7. Helen M

    You may be able to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels with a low carb diet. Additionally if you need to lose weight, that can happen too, which will decrease the stress on your joints. I took a statin for years and it did a number on my blood glucose levels. Never again!!! And my cholesterol jumps over 300 frequently; however, since I exercise, my HDL last test was 58.

  8. Rocket Scientist

    Why don’t you try not taking the glucosamine for a week or at least a few days before your next blood test? I really think it causes a false cholesterol reading.

  9. s.d.

    I am taking zetia(10mg) along with 1000mg Niacin and Red Yeast Rice and CoQ10 and have developed upper leg pain and hip pain, is it due to the above things I am taking? Do I need to stop all of these? My cholesterol is high and triglycerides too so I need something. I have also been taking the Gluco-samine and Chondroiten for arthritis. What do you recommend?
    thanks, SD

  10. VAR

    I was diagnosed with arthritis in Dec. 2003. At the time, I was limping badly and couldn’t bowl. A specialist told me that although the x-rays didn’t show it, he was sure that my right knee was bone-on-bone somewhere. I began using glucosamine right then along with 200 mg Celebrex and have never stopped. My cholesterol level hovers around the 247 mark and every year, my primary physician offers me a statin, and every year I turn it down. That’s 9 years since my diagnosis.
    I’m still bowling and I have a two story house not including doing laundry in the basement and I’m still going up and down at will, if not gracefully. My neighbor has the same problem and says even injections stopped working. She is having a room built onto her one-story house for laundry.
    It’s impossible to know if Glucosamine made the difference or if I’m just lucky. This is the first I’ve heard of Glucosamine being associated with elevated cholesterol. A steady 247 or so cholesterol level has never scared me, so I’ll keep things just the way they are.

  11. NG

    Do fish oil gel type supplements also raise cholesterol?
    Any other supplements?

  12. Paul43

    Seems like nowadays everything you hear or read about Statins is bad.
    None for me for sure.

  13. Rocket Scientist

    I had the same experience. My LDL hovered around 125. Three years ago, I saw a blurb about this effect. My annual physical pegged my LDL at 129. I made no changes except to quit taking the glucosamine-chondroitin. Three months later, my LDL reading was 107. My HDL did not change.
    I suspect the glucosamine-chondroitin causes a false reading rather than actually affecting LDL. I have little problem with my joints so it was easy to give it up. If I decide to take it again, I plan to stop it a week before any blood test.

  14. Mary V.

    Is CoQ10 the same thing as glucosamine? I looked at my bottle of CoQ10 and it did not say word one about glucosamine.
    Is just started taking cholestryamine to lower my cholesterol because I do not tolerate statins such as Zocor and Pravocol (muscle weakness and aches). I take 200 mg of CoQ10 a day. I take 8 oz of tart cherry juice which seems to eliminate any muscle aches from arthritis. Is cholestryamine considered a statin? If cholestryamine is not a statin, do I need to take CoQ10 anymore?

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