Medications are intended to make us better. We go to see our doctor, we explain our symptoms, and they offer a diagnosis and a medication in hopes of fixing the problem. Some of us take medications temporarily, but many of us take medications for a chronic condition like diabetes.
Recently, a study found that a class of widely prescribed medications for type 2 diabetes was linked to joint pain.
Joint pain is commonly felt by older adults but is often overlooked as a normal part of aging. Joint pain can be debilitating and affect a person’s daily life, so if a medication used to treat one condition also results in joint pain, it can worsen a person’s quality of life.
Type 2 diabetes drug linked to joint pain
The drugs associated with joint pain are sitagliptin (Januvia®), saxagliptin (Onglyza®), linagliptin (Tradjenta®) and alogliptin (Nesina) – a class of drugs known as DPP-4 inhibitors. These drugs can either be taken alone or in combination with other diabetic medications. DPP-4 inhibitors help boost insulin after a meal is consumed – that is when blood sugar is typically at its highest.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the medications, “may cause joint pain that can be severe and disabling,” and they have “added a new Warning and Precaution about this risk to the labels of all medicines in this drug class.” The FDA went on to say those taking DPP-4 inhibitors should not stop their medication, “but should contact their health care professional right away if they experience severe and persistent joint pain.”
Furthermore, the FDA suggests that doctors should consider DPP-4 inhibitors as a plausible cause for joint pain and take their patients off the drugs if the pain becomes severe.
It is important to get diabetes under control as it is associated with many complications, including blindness, nerve damage and heart failure.
Tips to relieve joint pain
If you live with joint pain – whether due to a side effect of medication or not – you know it can negatively impact your life. Joint pain, if severe enough, can even make it difficult for you to get out of bed in the morning. If you want to continue to enjoy your life to the fullest without pain, try these helpful tips.
- Avoid prolonged sitting or lying down – this can stiffen joints and make them more painful.
- Stay active and exercise regularly.
- Take pain relieving medication.
- Apply cold and hot to the affected area.
- Get massages.
- See a physical therapist.
- Go to acupuncture sessions.
- Rest when necessary – don’t overstrain your joints.
- Use a supportive device, such as a cane.
If your joint pain is quite severe, something more serious could be causing it, which means surgery may be an option. If you are taking DPP-4 inhibitors and have noticed an influx in joint pain, speak with your doctor about alternative treatment options.
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