Statins Linked With Risk of Musculoskeletal Injury

Relevant for thyroid patients because cholesterol and thyroid hormones are linked. GPs are being persuaded to prescribe statins to lower cholesterol, rather than look for the real cause of high cholesterol. There is a debate elsewhere as to whether raised cholesterol is the problem it is made out to be.

From Medscape

DALLAS, TX – The use of statins appears to be associated with an increased risk of musculoskeletal injuries, including an increased risk of dislocations, strains, and sprains, according to a new analysis[1]. Researchers suggest the full range of musculoskeletal adverse events might not be fully known and that further studies are needed, especially in active individuals.

"These findings are concerning because starting statin therapy at a young age for primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases has been widely advocated," report Dr Ishak Mansi (VA North Texas Health Care System, Dallas) and colleagues in a paper published online June 3, 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine. "Moreover, the numbers needed to be exposed for one additional person to be harmed were 37 to 58 individuals for various outcomes."

The study included 6967 statin users propensity-matched with 6967 nonusers. Of the statin users, the majority was treated with simvastatin (73.5%) and approximately one-third had been prescribed maximum doses of the drugs, including simvastatin 80 mg, atorvastatin 80 mg, or rosuvastatin (Crestor, AstraZeneca) 40 mg. Simvastatin 80 mg is currently restricted on the US market because of concerns about muscle damage.

In the propensity-matched analysis, treatment with a statin was associated with a 19% increased risk of any type of musculoskeletal injury (p<0.001), a 13% increased risk of dislocations, strains, and sprains (p=0.001), and a 9% increased risk of musculoskeletal pain (p=0.02). There was a trend toward a 7% higher risk of osteoarthritis/arthropathies, but the association was not statistically significant in the propensity-matched analysis. There was an increased risk of osteoarthritis/arthropathies in two analyses that first adjusted for and then excluded patients with comorbidities at baseline.

In contrast, researchers observed no association between the number of years an individual took simvastatin and the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.

The group says that musculoskeletal adverse events with statins may represent a lesser known side effect of the drug class and should be studied further, especially in individuals who continue to be physically active. A better understanding of the full risks of statins will also "provide more complete data for cost/benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses of statin use," write Mansi et al.


Mansi I, Frei CR, Pugh MJ, Makris U, Mortensen EM. Statins and musculoskeletal conditions, arthropathies, and injuries. JAMA Intern Med 2013; DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6184. Available at:

Heartwire © 2013 Medscape, LLC

14 Replies

  • Thats interesting, didn't know Statins could be linked to muscoskeletal injury. I understand that they destroy CoQ10 and I have kept well away from them. My surgery don't appear to know the link between high cholesterol and hypothyroidism and even with a drop from 7.4 to 6.2 since an increase in levo, they are still offering them to me. I have no doubt that they have their place, a friend of mine has an inherited high cholesterol problem, hers was 14 - didn't know it could go that high.

    Thanks for that

  • My gp told me that statins can affect people with fibromialgia it makes the pain worse, mine was 7.5 refused to go on them as i have fibromialgia my cholesterol was caused by hashimotos so i tried with diet the funny thing is my gp hasnt called me back to check see what it is. had an appointment with endo the other day she is going to check it and if still high sending me to a lipids docter as there are other things they can give you. I think that this should be tried by diet first or until thyroid medication is given to see if it lowers the cholesterol not put people straight on statins

  • Doctors are PAID to prescribe statins just as they were paid to prescribe

    anti- depressants in the 60's & 70's. The drug companies spent millions developing them and now want to recoup their money. No-one should take statins but it has been shown that hypo patients should especially not have them because of the damage they cause.

  • I had high cholesterol then I turned to a vegetarian diet for my daughters health reasons and since then I have a normal cholesterol level so I don't think it's anything to do with thyroid plus my dad don't have a thyroid problem but he does have cholesterol problems

  • I thought that research had shown that a) statins cause muscle wasting and b) the heart is a muscle, so (esp for those who haven't had a heat attack already) the next/first heart attack is more likely to be fatal if taking statins. I also thought that there was no research that showed that statins prolonged life. Sorry, you'll need to look up refs.

  • So if you die from a heart attack and your cholesterol is low due to statins, the doctor is covered - great!!

    Like everything else I think cholesterol levels have a basis in everyone's unique DNA - high or low. The body needs cholesterol, otherwise why would it be there. Sun exposure uses cholesterol to make Vit d.

    Whether its linked to uat or not, I know that mine has come down on its own, without any change in diet or statins and at some time I presume it will find its own level when everything my body needs is in balance.

  • Sorry I should have said my cholesterol has come down with an increase in levothyroxine but without the need to change diet or take statins.

  • I was diagnosed with a slightly underactive thyroid about 10 years ago, & my gp decided that monitering was the way to go at the time. I developed high cholesterol a couple of years ago, & was pressured into takin Simvastatin by my gp. The drugs made me so tired that all I wanted to do was sleep, & that`s not what I wanted. I triied taking Levothyroxine because I was told thhat my high cholesterol could be the result of a thyroid problem. I recently had the results of a blood test, & everything`s fine except the cholesterol, which is 6.5. My gp is pressuring me to go back on the statins, but I can`t help but feel that the drug companies will benefit more than me if I do take them again.

  • Hi All,

    Cholesterol is made by the liver and not gained from food. We need cholesterol in our diets because some vitamins are fat soluble and a type of fat called myalin forms a sheath around our nervous to stop the electrical signals misfiring and going awire. This is particularly important for our brains because it is our central nervous system and is connected to the rest of the body via our spines.

    My GP tried to get me on statins and I refused because of the side effects. His advise was, "the guidelines are that I have to prescribe you statins for your blood pressure". I replied that I have normal blood pressure. He then said it was for my "high cholesterol". I told him that my cholesterol, both LDL and HDL were normal but he still ranted that, "it's in the guidelines". My final reply was, "guidelines are not in statue and it's now a legal requirement of his job to give me statins, they are a guide to aid his diagnosis and that he should check the facts before prescribing things that might not be necessary for everyone".

    He backed down!

  • Fantastic! but I would change my doctor...this one is out to kill you! A " box ticker" of the highest order.

  • Hiya Ellarose

    I find that all the GP's at my local surgery are into ticking boxes, it's an easy option for them. If I could find a better doctor I would, but they are few and far between.

  • Very glad that so many others feel exactly as I do about statins, they made me feel awful to be honest and I took myself off them, and refuse them each time they are offered. Rather have a cholesterol level of 6.2 and feel good, than have a low level and feel so ill. Pharmacuetical companies are behind all this hype with everyone needing to be taking them.

  • Instead of statins just have 2-3 portions of oily fish a week the natural way to lower cholesterol and the way my parents managed to lower theirs, my dad was given statins as a preventative measure and stopped taking them being worried about the side effects his cholesterol is better now hes eating plenty of oily fish then when he was on statins

  • They never did my late hubby much good he was on them for years, seems to me that these days doctors are just agents for the the very rich pill factories

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