Statin use and musculoskeletal pain among adults with and without arthritis

Am J Med. 2012 Feb;125(2):176-82. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.08.007.


Background: Musculoskeletal symptoms are common adverse effects of statins, yet little is known about the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and statin use in the general population.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004. We estimated the prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal pain according to statin use and calculated prevalence ratio estimates of musculoskeletal pain obtained from adjusted multiple logistic regression modeling.

Results: Among 5170 participants without arthritis, the unadjusted prevalence of musculoskeletal pain was significantly higher for statin users reporting pain in any region (23% among statin users, 95% confidence interval [CI], 19-27, compared with 18% among those not using statins, 95% CI, 17-20; P=.02) and in the lower extremities (12% among statin users, 95% CI, 8-16, compared with 8% among those not using statins, 95% CI, 7-9; P=.02). Conversely, among 3058 participants with arthritis, statin use was not associated with higher musculoskeletal pain in any region. After controlling for confounders, among those without arthritis, statin use was associated with a significantly higher prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in any region, the lower back, and the lower extremities (adjusted prevalence ratios: 1.33 [CI, 1.06-1.67]; 1.47 [CI, 1.02-2.13]; 1.59 [CI, 1.12-2.22], respectively). Among participants with arthritis, no association was observed between musculoskeletal pain and statin use on adjusted analyses.

Conclusion: In this population-based study, statin use was associated with a higher prevalence of musculoskeletal pain, particularly in the lower extremities, among individuals without arthritis. Evidence that statin use was associated with musculoskeletal pain among those with arthritis was lacking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / chemically induced*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors