Association of Statin Use with Increased Risk of Musculoskeletal Conditions: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Drug Saf. 2018 Oct;41(10):939-950. doi: 10.1007/s40264-018-0682-y.


Introduction: Musculoskeletal conditions, including osteoarthritis (OA), result in tremendous disability and cost. Statins are among the most commonly prescribed medications and their use for primary prevention in many otherwise healthy individuals, including those who are physically active, is increasing. There is conflicting evidence regarding the relationship of statin use and musculoskeletal conditions. Given the rising disability associated with musculoskeletal conditions, understanding predisposing factors, including medication-related exposures, deserves further attention.

Objectives: We examined the association between statin use and the risk of being diagnosed with non-traumatic arthropathies, use-related injury, and undergoing rehabilitation in a cohort with longitudinal follow-up.

Methods: Patients enrolled in a regional military healthcare system between 2003 and 2012 were evaluated in this retrospective cohort study. A propensity score was generated to match statin-users and nonusers using 115 baseline characteristics. Outcomes included ICD-9 diagnoses codes for Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality disease categories of: non-traumatic arthropathies, use-related injury and undergoing rehabilitation. Primary analysis examined the outcomes in statin-users and nonusers after propensity score matching using conditional logistic regression analysis.

Results: Initially, 60,455 patients were identified. We propensity score-matched 6728 statin users with 6728 nonusers (52 years of age, ~ 47% women). In the propensity score-matched cohort, non-traumatic arthropathies occurred in 59.8% of statin users and 56.0% of nonusers [odds ratio (OR) 1.17, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.09-1.25] and use related injury occurred in 31.9% of statin users and 29.8% of nonusers (OR 1.11, 95% CI 1.03-1.19). There was no difference between statin users and nonusers undergoing rehabilitation (22.6% among statin users, 21.9% among nonusers, OR 1.04, 95% CI 0.96-1.13).

Conclusion: Statin use was associated with a significant increased risk of non-traumatic arthropathies and use-related injury. Our results provide additional data that can inform patient and clinician conversations about the benefits and risks of statin use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Osteoarthritis / chemically induced*
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology
  • Propensity Score
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors