Top 10 Medications that Can Cause Pain

  • Doctors are often asked to diagnose the cause of pain. Sometimes the cause is as close as the medication list. A number of medications can potentially lead to pain. The most common pains are: joint pains, muscle pains, stomach pains and headaches. Check your medication list to see if you might be experiencing drug-induced pain from one of these commonly prescribed drugs.


    1. Cholesterol-lowering Medications: The class of drugs called the “statins” is by far the most common cause of muscle pain. These medications include: Crestor, Lipitor, and Zocor. Talk to your doctor about alternatives like Slo-Niacin or Red Rice Yeast if you are concerned that your cholesterol-lowering medications might be causing pain.
    2. Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications (NSAID’s): Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen are readily available and often cause stomach pain. By increasing the stomach acid production, NSAID’s can easily irritate the stomach lining. Stomach pain is usually the warning sign before a stomach ulcer. In order to avoid using NSAID’s, try an Anti-Inflammatory Diet.
    3. Opioid Medications: Yes, the medications prescribed to relieve pain can cause pain, lots of pain. Headaches are a frequent side-effect to opioid medications like Vicodin, Percocet and Morphine. This type of headache usually responds to anti-histamines.  But, opioid medications can also cause a lot more pain than just a headache. Opioid medications can worsen chronic pain or generally increase the sensitivity to pain. These potential consequences to chronic opioid use are called withdrawal-mediated pain and opioid-induced hyperalgesia. Talk to your doctor about switching to long-acting opioids if you are experiencing worsening pain while using short-acting opioids.
    4. Stomach Medications: Zantac, Tagamet, and Prilosec are just a few examples of medications that can cause joint pain. They are available over-the-counter in order to alleviate stomach upset. Thus, they are often used when taking an NSAID. Consider discontinuing the NSAID that is irritating the stomach in the first place if your stomach medications are causing joint pain.
    5. Blood Pressure Medications: So many people take blood pressure medications like Minipress, Lopressor and Catapress. Did you know that these mediations can also cause joint and muscle pain? Check with your doctor about alternative ways to lower your blood pressure if your anti-hypertension medications are causing pain.
    6. Antibiotics Medications: Believe it or not, even some antibiotics can cause pain. Possible culprits include: Flagyl, Keflex and Clindamyacin. If you are experiencing pain because of your antibiotic, ask your doctor for a different antibiotic.
    7. Anti-depressant Medications: Wellbutrin and Trazodone are the anti-depressant medications most commonly associated with muscle pain and joint pain. Plus, the ever popular SSRI’s like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft are known to potentially cause headaches. Beware of the potential for pain if you are starting a trial of an anti-depressant medication and talk to your doctor if you do experience pain related to these medications.
    8. Mood Stabilizing Medications:  Medications like Zyprexa and Risperal are associated with joint pain, abdominal pain and headache.
    9. Smoking Cessation Drugs: The nicotine products like the patch and the spray can cause joint pain and headaches. Chantix can cause headache and abdominal pain. It’s great that you are trying to quit smoking. You just might need to get through some temporary pain to get to the other side.
    10. Asthma Medications: Even the medications meant to help you breathe easier can cause pain. Singulair can cause headache and abdominal pain. Albuterol can cause headaches too.


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  • Are you surprised to see how many commonly prescribed medications can cause pain? If you are experiencing a new pain or worsening pain, carefully read through the medication package inserts and talk with your doctor and/or pharmacists. Do not suddenly stop taking your prescribed medications without first talking with your doctor when you discover that the pain diagnosis may be as close as your medication list.

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Published On: September 10, 2014