Pack of Statin Tablets

Is there anything to the recent reports that statins can cause knee pain?

The national press does seem to enjoy taking old news and recycling it as something new and faintly alarmist. Take this recent headline from the Daily Express: ‘Statins side effects: The ‘sudden’ and disturbing sensation that can occur in the knee’.

There’s quite a bit to unpack in that headline so let’s start with the ‘sudden and disturbing sensation’ part. The article goes on to report that research among statin users has revealed ‘some tissue damage that could give rise to sudden, and sharp pain.’

This isn’t new. We’ve known for years that statins can have musculoskeletal side effects that can cause muscle and joint pain. So yes, the research may well be correct, but it’s only adding to a body of information we already possess.

The next question, therefore, is what should you do with this information as a statin user? As with any prescription medicine, the risk of taking statins needs to be balanced against the risk of not taking them. If you have a strong personal or family history of cardiac problems, or if you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure that put you at increased risk of heart attack or stroke, then a statin may well be recommended by your GP, and with good reason.

Any GP who prescribes a statin will already have balanced the benefits against the risks. They should not (and will not) be blasé about prescribing them, because they do carry side effects. There is, however, more than one type of statin and it may be that a different type of medication, or a different dose, could maintain the positive effects while reducing any side effects.

If you’re taking statins and have noticed an increase in knee pain, go back to your GP and discuss the problem with them. If, having balanced the risks, your GP decides to stop the statin and the knee pain continues, ask for an MRI scan to get to the root of the problem.

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Dave Duffy

Dave Duffy

Private appointments weekly at The Duchy Hospital Harrogate & Nuffield Hospital Leeds

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