Arthritis Treatment with Statins?
When patients complain about pain thinking it is arthritis, doctors are advised to check if statins might be the actual cause. And indeed, statins can cause muscle pain.
But there is also some evidence that statins alleviate pain in arthritis sufferers. Because the pleitropic effects of statins include antiinflammation, it would seem to follow that if anything statins would reduce arthritis pain. Researchers have found some evidence, but the percentage of patients who experience pain reduction seems to vary from study to study. A British study of over 16,000 patients found a high-dose statin regiment for two years was associated with lower rates of osteoarthritis.
Results in formal trials have been mixed, though,
and statins have not entered general use for arthritis treatment. However, the increasing evidence for statin efficacy suggests new routes for treatment of arthritic people, particulaly older ones who may need statins for cholesterol anyway.
Both arthritis and cholesterol problems are experienced by older people, so it is common for many to take both statins and arthritis medicine. Any positive effects of the statins on the arthritis are a happy coincidence.
Statin use can cause three types of muscle damage. the lowest level is muscle pain which usually disappears within a few weeks of discontinuing the medicine. The next level up is muscle pain and inflammation with also disappears after discontinue. This condition is detectable with high levels of the muscle enzyme CPK showing up in blood tests. The worst level is severe inflammation and muscle weakness throughout the body. This can cause severe damage.