man with back pain holds his back

Q. I started taking 10 mg of Zocor (simvastatin) four years ago.
At that time I was in good physical condition. I would exercise regularly after work. Since that time I have aged rapidly and am not capable of working out due to pain in my back, right hip and leg.
I have been to a great number of doctors, and they have found no reason for the pain. I regularly get cortisone and nerve-burning treatments in my lower back.
I recently had my simvastatin prescription increased to 20 mg per day and almost immediatly my symptoms increased and went into my other hip and leg also. I have an appointment with my doctor scheduled, and now I am thinking the simvastatin could be the reason for all of my problems.
I will write again when and if I get some answers. I would like to thank everyone on this website for all the helpful information you have posted.

A. We cannot answer your question whether your statin has caused the pains in your back, hips and legs. We can only say that all statins are capable of causing muscle pain and weakness. The pains can occur almost anywhere including hands, shoulders, neck, back, legs, feet and knees.
We have received so many reports of similar problems to this website that we don’t know where to begin. Here are just a few examples:

“I know dozens of people who take statins. Most of them were always active at work and home. Now everyone of these people, me included, complain of aches and pains in muscles and joints. Some days my legs feel like the won’t support me. My arms and shoulders feel like I climbed a mountain. I don’t even feel like weeding my rose garden.
“My doctor, my wife’s doctor, and my mother’s doctor (all different people) all swear that the statins are not causing the problem. Side effects listed on all statins include muscle pain – guess they can’t read. Another problem we all have is extreme fatigue. This group of people was otherwise healthy and active, but now some of them feel like they should be in the old folks home.
“Since my cholesterol is very low now, I trying to talk my doctor into weaning me off the statins. I’m hoping he does and I can feel like a human being again instead of a zombie.”

“My husband’s doctor, an internal medicine specialist, prescribed a statin drug which he was on for about 1 year. My husband had horrible aches and pain every day, had trouble sleeping and he also developed neuropathy. He has been off the statin for over a year and still has all the problems related to it.
“My concern is that his doctor just puts his patients on a pill and does not take any side affects into consideration simply just says pop this pill. My husband won’t question his doctor but I certainly do.”

“Muscle pain can mean different things to different people. I was on statins (Lipitor) for years and complained to my doc about muscle pain. The long muscles from hip to ankle are so sore that I can’t bear to touch them.
“I have been off statins for two years and there is no relief from the pain. Leg muscles are also weak, making stairs very difficult. Will this muscle sensitivity ever go away?”

“My husband started taking Zocor 5 years ago. The first time he started to notice tingling in his left arm and muscle weakness, we told his doctor, and he said it was not what we saw in the list of side effects in commercials on TV, which said if you notice these symptoms, you should tell doctor–AS we did, but he still denied it.
“What we don’t understand is why his doctor started him on such a high dose: 80mg. Most people I have talked to were started on 10mg or 20mg. He then totally lost the use of his arm. We then had other medical problems that needed to be taken care after we started to see a nerologist who thought it may be a pinched nerve.
“To make this short because there is so much more, 4 years later my husband had a biospy done, in May of this year and has been told he has ALS.
“He stopped taking Zocor for 6 mo., but I think if we had known about these statins and if his doctor would have been more honest about the side effects and listened more to us about the symptoms, my husband would have stopped taking the drug immediately and would not at 58 yrs. old be fighting for his life.
“I think anyone who is on any of these statins should make sure that there are no other safe options, unlike my husband who trusted his doctor. I hope this helps even one person to have a choice and to know all the true side effects.
“Thank you and I hope that the F.D.A will take a closer look into these statins that I believe are causing motoneuron diseases!”

The FDA denies that there is any connection between statins and ALS or any other serious motor neuron disease. That said, you can listen to our extended radio interview with Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD. She reveals her research into some of these scary side effects. It is the 4th bonus interview arrow in our “Understanding Statins” radio show link.
And please share your own story below. We want to hear all sides of the statin story. You may wish to purchase a CD of the show and give it to your husband’s physician to consider.

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  1. William

    I like all of the examples above. With regard to statins, it has now become a reality for me. I too have what the medical community would call highish – Cholesterol issues. I have been on and now off Lipitor and Simvastatin for about fifteen years. I have now taken myself off of my once a day 20mg dosage of Simvastatin. I wanted off and consulted a Homeopath doc for help. He helped me with an all-organic natural product to assist in helping keep my bad HDL down along with an even more strict diet ( as I have pretty much always been health conscious with what I put into my body).

    We did a 90 day test with the natural product, completely eliminating the statin. My GP was aware of what I was doing as well. After the trial my screening came back a little higher than what it had been on the Statin alone. My GP wasn’t too alarmed, I wasn’t in the red as yet, but he suggested I go back to my regular dosage of the statin to rule out any possible problems. Once back on the statin, the muscle pain and bit of memory loss returned. I am now off of the statin again.

    Continuing to find better alternatives, as in the example given above. Do your due diligence, and find a better way. Clean diets are the best start along with exercise, once your body allows you to go there again. What I forgot to mention is during my 90 day trial off my Statin regime, my body felt better. Once I started up again, the pain ensued almost immediately!

    I wish all of you good health and good healthy alternatives. They are out there, but you must dig to find them. One way would be to start to check into non Western Medical alternatives to your issues.

  2. MF

    Well, it is so good to read all these entries….I have the same story. Have been healthy my whole life, mostly fit, not overweight… but a routine blood test found high cholesterol (238) and not so great hdlLDL ratio. My MD started me on Crestor.
    Within two weeks I stated feelings aches. At two months my legs and hips ached so bad I couldn’t take the stairs and was having difficulty getting in and out of the car. I have been off the stuff for about one month now and the aches are largely gone… still some though. I wish I had never taken it. I wish our medical system wasn’t driven by greed and profit. I developed three hernias just as I was coming to terms with what Crestor might have been doing… looking at myalgia and muscle damage.
    If I find out that my hernias (weakness in muscle wall of abdomen) were caused or exacerbated by the statin… I will be extremely irate. If you are reading this… check into CO-enzyme q10 and check into the possible side effects of statins… not good.

  3. Bailey

    I just saw this post you wrote in October, 2013. I just wanted to tell you that going on a cholesterol free diet is NOT THE ANSWER. Recall you were put on a statin to lower your cholesterol and you have suffered terrible side effects.
    People are stuck on numbers. Cholesterol is our friend. It is necessary for every function in the body. In fact, the lower your cholesterol (by any means), the worse your health gets. I realize that is not a popular opinion with so many people on statins. When I considered all the people out there who were suffering debilitating pain and weakness, that is my opinion. It took a lot of research and questioning before I made this oh so difficult life choice.
    Try going to the site called Dr. Duane Graveline started that site after his own horrifying experience with statins. He has authored some very good books as well. You will see them listed. Also, I just read a fascinating book by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, called The Great Cholesterol Con. There you will understand how cholesterol came to be the villain it is in modern medicine. However, I have learned the opposite is true. Excessively low cholesterol sets the stage for many illness out there, some of which are deadly. I repeat: Cholesterol is your friend. And, while you may be thinking you don’t like the company I keep, start reading. You can also go online to Utube and see excerpts from the film “Statin Nation”. I actually got a copy of the entire film for Christmas. Boy, was I ever right to get off the statins after so many years of pain and agony.
    It has only been 6-7 months since I got off these drugs, but I am feeling better. I do take CoQ10 daily and regular vitamins. I also take a supplement with turmeric and green tea extract. I avoid processed sugars (95% of the time he he), white breads, pastas, white potatoes and rice. I eat only whole grains, brown rice, brown pastas, and sweet potatoes. I also always have a tray of fresh raw vegetables on hand for snacks or to lightly steam. Food is medicine. And, lastly, I eat a lot of protein with fat. I also eat real butter.
    The fat and cholesterol won’t hurt you. It is what you mix it with that will do you in. That is, all the bad carbs I have mentioned above. Oxidative stress is the culprit, not cholesterol. You sound like a very intelligent person. Read, read and read some more. You will figure it out. But, by all means before thinking a cholesterol free diet is the answer, check out these sources of information I am listing here.
    After 6-7 months, I can’t tell you all the pain is gone. What I can tell you is this: I was on a lot of pain medicine. I woke up in pain and went to sleep in pain. I have been able to get rid of the vast majority of it unless I have a really bad day… I do still have them. But, I have good days too. That is what keeps my spirits up. When I recall a cholesterol count of 111 and pain so bad, I would cry… when I recall the weakness that still plagues me to this day, but is getting better, I consider myself lucky to be alive. All this pain and misery started when I had just turned 50, yet I felt like I was 90. It made no sense whatsoever.
    To all of you out there who have the courage to think for yourselves and read and research for the truth, I applaud you. It is scary to go against an established system. It takes guts to think for yourself and refuse to take answers that don’t fit.
    Good luck GiGi!!
    God Bless,

  4. Jennifer

    No I do not have alot of pain but the knee is tight in front making walking difficult. I also have clicking/clunking. Would a procedure to change forces on the kneecap be recommended ?

  5. GIGI

    I have been taking zocor 40mg. once a day for 12 years and no doctor has ever said to stop. I also take zetia once a day but have been on it for six months now… had taken it with the zocor for a year in 2002 then dr. said to stop zetia.
    In the last ten years I have noticed I have allot of muscle pains… now can hardly walk very far as my hips, leg bones won’t hold me up and the mid, back pain is terrible. I have to sit several times a day for 15 mins. to a half an hour, get up and do what I have to do. The rest helps for another hour then back to the chair.
    In the last 4 years I have noticed some loss of memory. Now it is getting much worse. It is frightening. I have always been a very active person, mentally as well as physically but since taking zocor, I have gradually gotten worse.
    A tendon broke loose from a bone in back of one of my knees too. falling apart.
    ..then I had to have a stent. (in 2002). That’s when all the meds started and I started having all sorts of muscle problems along with the forgetfulness soon after. Before that I only got hormone injection once a month. never any meds.
    I am stopping the zetia and zocor and going on a cholesterol free diet. Can I get my body and brain back to normal? That is the question. I’m 78 but age never stopped my body and mind before and to tell me all these things are because of my age is not correct!

  6. Bailey

    Today, I took my mom to her Cardiologist. I informed him that I took her on Simvastatin to which he replied “Oh did she have joint pain?” Yes, I said. I did not feel like arguing with him. He then said that taking her off Simvastatin would not matter at this point. Well, I guess not given her history following these drugs.
    She was on the dreaded Baycol for quite some time and put on Simvastatin after Baycol was taken off the market. After starting on statins (she did not have high blood pressure, nor any heart issues that required intervention), the horror began. She went downhill really quick.
    Rather than protect her heart, this medication has caused her terrible pain and weakness in her legs and back, and memory problems that are similar to Transient Global Amnesia for starters. She also had cataract surgery shortly thereafter. Her mental status has deteriorated so quickly and strangely that my sister and I are confounded.
    She suffered six mini strokes, and also congestive heart failure requiring a pacemaker. Not too long ago, she had two stents placed for blockages. Now I ask you, did statins protect my mother in any way? None of this is in her family history.
    Then I informed him I took myself on Simvastatin. He said “Now you are too young to get off statins!” Is he for real? I have suffered terrible pain right after starting on statins and it has gotten worse not better. My liver enzymes were elevated, kidneys were not functioning properly for a whole year and I began to have muscle twitching that was alarming to say the least.
    I have been off statins for almost four months. I still have peripheral neuropathy, memory problems, stinging and burning in my feet and a whole host of other maladies too much to count.
    I plan to stay off the statins and feel hopeful that one day I will go back to normal. I was on so many medications for High B/P, swelling in feet and hands, numbness and tingling in both upper extremities. My last blood work (as a result of an unexpected hospitalization out of town) showed my CK levels were well over the limit of normal. She never checked my CK levels despite numerous and ongoing complaints of pain and discomfort for years.
    Now, I will find someone to do repeat CK testing to see where this muscle damage is coming from and a deep muscle biopsy. Not one doctor ever thought my symptoms were the result of statins. In fact, the first time I was made aware that this may be related was through my Pharmacist.
    When my doctor switched me to Simvastatin and the pain continued, she used that as a reason why statins were not causing the pain. This time when I told her why I thought I was having these problems and stopped the statins, she put in my file that I had “statin intolerance”. Well, it is about time.
    Maybe these doctors are getting to a place that they just cannot refute the studies any longer and the fact that STATINS JUST DO NOT PROTECT THE HEART AND VASCULAR SYSTEM and have not resulted in fewer incidents of heart attacks. I am doing better than before now. The pain has subsided, but not gone away. I just hope and pray that one day the pain will go away completely and that I will feel like I am supposed to feel at my age.

  7. Lorene S.

    I’m convinced now that all my pain is caused from Simvastatin especially after reading all the comments. I started taking this pill 20mg a day & have severe lower back pain, hip pain, leg pain. I even had an x ray on my hip & nothing found. I use to jog 5 miles a day & now can’t even exercise due to the pain. I use so much icy hot that helps a bit but not much.

  8. NJ

    I have had similar problems. I am 44 years of age and was on 20mg simvastatin for the last 5 years. I was very active, exercised, and full of energy before taking simvastatin.
    Gradually, I had lost strength everywhere in my body, especially in my left leg. I could hardly raise it to get out of a car or chair. I also began to have memory problems, muscle cramps, muscle twitching, and fatigue.
    I went to the emergency room because I was so weak and could hardly walk anymore. Of course, these symtoms mimic MS and ALS, so I had an MRI with and without contrast, an EMG, and all the blood work.
    They could not find anything wrong with me, but told me to stay off the simvastatin for 4 to 6 weeks to see if anything changes.
    I have noticed huge changes since I quit taking Simvastatin……it has only been 2 weeks since I quit taking it, and already the fatigue is gone, I can walk again, my memory and concentration are like it used to be (at least I think), my strength has returned, and my left leg is feeling better! I still have some more tests for memory and Lymes Disease, but I feel like my old self again!
    The Neuro does not think simvastatin could have caused these side effects since I never had them earlier, but I think this is what has caused all my problems. I was put on them due to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which probably saved my life at the time, and lowered my cholesterol, but probably not something you want to be on long term?
    There is definately risk/side effects to using statins, and hindsight is 20/20 now. I would advise not taking them and look for alternative ways to lower your cholesterol.

  9. Bailey

    Believe me I tried so many times to get my late husband on a healthy diet. He just refused to take care of himself in that way. His answer was to medicate the problems away. He tried for a few months after his first by-pass surgery. But, he just gave up and ate whatever he wanted.
    I see now he could have greatly changed the course of his life with those changes alone. But, he just did not listen. I can only miss him, remember the good times, and encourage our son to follow a different path.
    In fact, our son had a weight problem. He ate NO VEGETABLES OR FRUITS ONLY THE WORST CARBS YOU CAN EAT. I sent him to a weight loss camp for kids when he was 13. He weighed close to 260lbs. It broke my heart to force him to go but there is a very happy ending.
    He learned all he needed to know about health and nutrition and exercise. Since then (he is 22 now), he has controlled his weight, eats healthy and exercises regularly. Had I not sent him to a place where he learned how to eat fruits and veggies, he would not be so healthy today.
    I was so frightened that he refused to eat anything but carbs, I made him go while I still had control. He now says it was the best thing I could have done for him. We have changed the course of history here for an entire generation. That is a good feeling!!!

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