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Avatar universal

Accutane and joint pain

I have been on 40mg/day of Accutane for six weeks. Of course, I've had the usual side effects (dryness, depression, lethargy.) My main problem now is severe joint pain. I lift weights 5x per week. I don't want to stop working out, but my right elbow and both shoulders are killing me! Has anyone had experience with this and can you recommend medicine or treatment for the joint pain? I employ high intensity training (low reps, hight weight) but can change my lifting to lighter weight, with higher weights. But I can not stop lifting. Any advice will be appreciated.
87 Responses
Avatar universal
Joint pain is a common side effect to Accutane.  You should tell your doctor about it and have him reduce the dose of the drug.  Hopefully that will get rid of the pain and you won't need to take any additional meds to fight it.  Good luck!
Avatar universal
Ah, and I wanted to add that the fact that it's a common side effect DOES NOT mean that you should be experiencing it.  You should not be having joint pain - please see your doctor about it.  Thanks! :)
Avatar universal
I just came back from the doctors and he said if i experience joint pain its because im not drinking enough water.
you should be drinking about a gallon a day.
I start the program in a month! i hope it works
Avatar universal
I took Accutane in the summer of 2001and have not been well since, even after stopping the drug.  I never had joint pain prior to taking it.  I was a very healthy person.  The pain began in my lower back and progressed to all my joints and entire back. When my dermatologist learned of my problems, she stopped the Accutane immediately.  She stated back pain was a side effect.  I read all the info before taking Accutane, and it never described these symptoms in 2001.  When I was 30 years old, I had back surgery and it destroyed my back.  A doctor at Emory University saw my pre-op MRI and determined I should never have had surgery in the first place.  I believe with all my heart that the Accutane is the cause of my problems.  I have debilitating pain every day.  I have been checked for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.  Both were negative.  I saw a Rheumatologist, and he remembers this being a problem in the past.
Avatar universal
My daughter took accutane for about 4 months.  She was 14 at the time.  Now, at 17, she has severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.  She is in pain constantly.  Her hands looks like claws, and on some days she cannot bend her fingers completely.  some days, she cannot walk.  some days I have to wash her hair for her, and even aplly her deodorant because she is unable to raise her arms due to shoulder pain.  Joint pain and swelling began immediately after she started Accutane.  Her dermatologist lowered the dosage and told us the side effect was temporary.  She finished her course, and her skin is gorgeous now.  The cost, however, has been devastating.  Her doctors tell us Accutane did not cause the arthritis.  I wonder...
309783 tn?1271958229
Hi. Accutane is prescribed for severe acne which has not responded to an adequate (normally 2 years) course of oral antibiotics and topical treatment. It is not intended to be given as a first line treatment, and is not indicated for acne occuring before puberty. Care must be taken when prescribing to adolescent patients who have not finished growing. Due to the many reported side effects, accutane is reserved for patients with nodular acne or acne conglobata which is at risk of scarring or causing psychological problems. Before considering accutane patients should try oral oxytetracycline which is effective at clearing many types of acne including rosacea and peri-oral dermatitis. Repeat prescriptions may be required for as long as the patient is prone to acne. Dermatologists have found the most effective topical acne lotion to be Differin, especially when used in conjunction with oral treatment. Female patients should also try Dianette, an anti-androgen birth control pill which clears acne.
Loiloi xx

Avatar universal
like ttjones I took accutane for 4 months but it was in 1998.  I haven't felt normal since.  Depression and joint pain, scalp problems,  light sensitive eyes.  I would suggest not taking the drug.
Avatar universal
been on accutane fro roughly 2 months now, my skin has never been better, i was waking up to 2 or 3 new cystic spots a day even on medicine, i tried everything all the creams and pills, and all the natural remidies, none improved my acne, i was at my breaking point, so i started accutane as the real last resort.

its only been recently iv experianced joint pains, which i expected becuase iv always had dodgy joints, but its to a point when i lay in bed and breath out, its fairly painful, i just started some cod liver oil and about to drink alot more water, hopefuly it goes away if not il let me doc know... im also experiancing muscle fatigue, it feels like the day after youv done extensive exercise

in my eyes as long as the pain is tempory and leaves nolong term damage i think its worth it, becuase i realy was it the breaking point often contenplating suicide (sounds stupid, i know), and since being on accutane iv only been happier, (apparently iv been moody though), but only my mum thinks so, friends say im the same as normal.

ps. im 19, acne since 14(got realy bad at 17), 65kgs in weight, on 60mgs a day, 2 months in on a 5 month course
Avatar universal
I took accutane for about a year and right after developed severe joint pain and swelling, and was later diagnosed with lupus.  While lupus is supposed to be a genetic disease, I have a feeling that the accutane had something to do with it, or that it may have even caused lupus-like symptoms in me that are now permanent. So while I have clearer skin, i truely think that at the very least the accutane triggered the lupus and the joint pain.
Avatar universal
i have started accutane 4 days ago u lot a getting me scared but my face it terrible let u know how i get on
Avatar universal
the things people on this forum are saying about joint pain couldn't be more true. I took accutane 5 months ago. I am 20 years old, male, 70kg. WIthin a week of taking accutane my back pain started. it was bearable though so my derm and I decided to cntinue the treatment. By the 3rd week i couldn't even walk or sit without moaning and groaning from the back pain. I discontinued the medication after 3 weeks. Its been 5 months and now every joint in my body hurts including my wrists.  when i say every joint i mean my ankles, knees, shoulders, elbows, pelvis, and even my back. no type of acne is worth immobility. Theyve done every test you could imagine. ive endured the radiation equivelant to 50,000 x-rays, and take almost every blood test you could imagine. None of my 6 doctors can figure it out. Stay away from this drug. just search for accutane and joint pain in any forum and you are guaranteed to find atleast 2 people suffering from it post accutane. all that garbage about "any side effect will stop after the discontinuation of the medicine" is garbage. I read about people dealing with what ive dealt with for years. Thoughts of suicide have become so common. i dont know how im going to bare this pain any more. it wasnt worth it. i cant walk for more than 15 min. i cant sit for more than 30. i cant drive anymore, i cant exercise... i just want my life back
Avatar universal
I've already briefly posted about my experience with Accutane, but I want to let everyone know what I've found out.  A college student (who's posted an article on-line) took Accutane years ago, and it ruined his joints too.  He has done years of research on the mechanism of Accutane.  It has the same component as chemo!  It shortens the life of EVERY cell in your body; that's why you age so quickly (joints, hair, skin)  Here's the site:  http://www.topix.com/forum/drug/accutane/T9QJ8DO1TLI41VBPN

He is doing everything he can to get it off the market, BUT what about all of us who are in chronic pain EVERY SINGLE DAY?  I'm so tired of the pain!  If it weren't for my faith, I don't know what I would do.  I went from working full-time, taking care of 2 small children, and keeping a spotless house to near disability.  I can only work part-time b/c of the pain, and that's very difficult.

The symptoms started right after I began Accutane.  There's no other explanation; there's just too many people with this same story.  We all can't be crazy!  PLEASE DO NOT DESTROY YOUR LIFE OVER ACNE!  My vision is worse, my hair is thinner, I've got bladder problems, and all b/c of of this medicine.  
Avatar universal
I was on accutane for 4 months and I had no problem with joint pain while on it, and now 1.5 years has past and I have extremely weak joints. I have wrist pain and knee pain. Although I has pre condition with my knees in regards to misaligned tibia, but before accutane I had no pain and now I do I cant even have a job which I have to stand up for a long time.
I know how desperate people with acne are for a cure, because I was one of them, but this drug is not worth it.
1284766 tn?1272809789
Know this post was written a while ago, but wanted to put my two cents in anyways. I took Accutane when I was 16, about 6 years ago, and almost immediately after I finished my course I developed severe joint pain and swelling.  I saw a rheumatologist and was diagnosed with lupus, and joint pain is one of the symptoms I deal with to this day.  I'm 100% positive that the Accutane, being such a powerful drug, triggered the lupus.  I tend to believe that I had lupus before taking it, but simply had no symptoms beyond mild fatigue, and that the Accutane acted as a catalyst for even worse symptoms.  I would say that most joint pain caused by the Accutane is probably from it aggravating some preexisting condition.  I suppose it could be possible that Accutane itself does something to your body, perhaps ruins your joints even if you're completely healthy to start with, but I've yet to find research regarding this.  I would love for it to be the case for me that Accutane temporarily caused lupus-like symptoms that will simply go away with time, especially since I'm now having issues with the Plaquenil I take for my lupus, but I think that's wishful thinking.  Good luck to everyone who has suffered from this drug.
Avatar universal
I started accutane tx when i was 30yrs old. Got through week 4 @ $300.00 each wk. Insurance wouldn't pay. Started with stiffness in my joints and muscles and slowly began to develop pain. Eventually it became so severe that I could hardly walk. My husband would carry me to the car and then my co-workers would carry me to my desk. I told my Dr. and he said it was just a coincidence. He stopped the Tx though and referred my to an orthopedic Dr. This Dr. ran all kinds of test (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc...He could find nothing abnormal. He referred me to a Rheumatologist who diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. Told me to take 1000mg of Tylenol 2 times a day for the rest of my life. Since that time (it's been 11years)and I am no better. Many more health problems have reared their ugly head. I have spent thousands of dollars over the years. The hardest part is being labeled as a hypochondriac.No one believes you because you look perfectly fine and there are no test that find anything wrong. You feel so isolated. Your health deteriorates because your unable to exercise. Your whole life has changed and not for the better. I now use a prescription medication called spironolactone 50mg. I had to beg my Gynecologist to prescribe it. I don't understand why I wasn't told about this med. years ago. It works really well, especially if you have hormonal acne. Please, I am begging you to pass on the Accutane. I believe without a shadow of a doubt that Accutane has done permanent damage to my muscles somehow. I know how self-conscious your acne and scars make you feel. Believe me when I tell you it's not worth it. Just a note that I find too common; my acne came back shortly after stopping the tx. I wasted $1200.00 and my health for what?
1371884 tn?1299984583
Reading everyone's posts made me feel like I'm not alone, so thank you everyone for sharing.  My story is very similar to a lot of your stories.  I started taking it when I was 16, my derm. prescribed it even though my acne was not even that severe, and did not forewarn me about the more serious side effects.  I was running track full time and playing soccer.  Immediately after taking it (i did not have joint pain during the treatment, just dry skin and cracked lips) I developed horrible joint pain in my right leg which I thought was illotibial band syndrome (ITBS), a common runner's injury.  Even though I went to physical therapy for a half a year it still did not get better, if anything it got worse.  Now that I am 22 the pain has been getting progressively worse and has moved to every part of my body.  My neck is always in pain, my back is always stiff and in knots, I cannot run anymore (at least not w/o feeling immense pain), walking up stairs is a constant chore, my night vision is diminished considerably, and my breathing is as if I am horribly out of shape, when in fact I am not.  I constantly feel weak and lightheaded.  I am in denial about my symptoms when it comes to trying to explain how I feel to other people, because I know they will not understand.  It's something that only someone who has experienced first hand ever will.  I have been depressed (even though I am at one of the best points of my life) and I don't know what to do about it.  I have been told a slue of different things from various doctors and all of them have not worked.  If anyone has any type of advice or suggestions please let me know!! I will try anything!
Hi, i took Accutane in 1993 and I developed severely painful interstitial cystitis of the bladder and degenerative disc disease as well as chronic fatigue syndrome(because it damages mitochondria) after taking it. My symptoms have never gone away. It took me 12 years to get the proper bladder diagnosis. Do you have any of these symptoms? I see the same kinds of symptoms from Accutane in multiple groups in addition to crohn’s which was in the class action. Do you know if any progress has been made in getting legal  help action for our injuries?
Avatar universal
Taking this drug is a bit like playing Russian Roulette. Since this drug alters RNA transcription, it depends heavily on your DNA's susceptibility to the drug. Some people will experience mild side effects, while others will experience devastating side effects. Isotretinoin (Accutane) is a retinoid which is a derivative of Vitamin A. Taking a full course of Isotretinoin is basically like taking an overdose of Vitamin A. An overdose of vitamin A, or vitamin A poisoning, is also known as Hypervitaminosis A. Hypervitaminosis A can also be experienced from eating the liver of certain animals, for example the polar bear. Eskimos do not eat polar bear liver because it gives them Vitamin A poisoning (Hypervitaminosis A).

The side effects from Vitamin A poisoning are numerous. Sore joints, dry skin, dry eyes, colitis, blurry vision, rash, psoriasis, loss of hair, depression, headache, fatigue, nosebleeds, loss of hearing, lowered immune system function. The effect the Vitamin A poisoning has on the cells is that it slows down cellular proliferation. This is how it works for Acne by slowing down the oil production. This is fine for controlling the Acne, however it can be devastating/damaging to other organ and musculoskeletal systems which require cellular proliferation to operate adequately. For some people, after they stop taking Isotretinoin the cellular proliferation levels return to normal and a certain amount of healing/recovery can be done by the body. But for others who are more susceptible to the drug, proliferation levels do not return to normal and too much damage is done to certain organ systems to be able to recover. This is why I say that when you take this drug Isotretinoin (Accutane) you are playing Russian Roulette with your DNA and its susceptibility to it.

When I took this drug approximately 3 years ago, I had the common side effects (dry skin, dry lips, dry eyes, sore joints). I was 22 years old when I took the drug and I weighed 250 pounds. I took 50mg/day for 5 months. I was fine afterwards aside from a sore back. The Acne cleared up completely. Approximately 1 year after I stopped taking the drug, I started to feel horrible and had thoughts of suicide. I also was having heart palpitations and my fingers were cold and showing signs of clubbing on the fingertips. I also was showing signs of crohns disease. I went to the doctor (hospital) and they had no clue as to what was wrong. I showed them my fingers and the lady doctor just basically shrugged her shoulders. I told her about the crohns syptoms and she booked me for a scope in approximately 7 months. Terrible medical service, absolutely horrendous. So I ended up going to an alternative medicine clinic where I had a live blood analysis. All I can say is, oh my god! If you are reading this right now and you are feeling horrible, please, I beg you, please go and get a high quality live blood analysis done. Anyways back to the story, my blood had showed everything. You get to see your own blood under the microscope. The alternative medicine doctor layed out everything that was wrong with me, EVERYTHING. My red blood cells were all clumped together, a formation called rouleaux where the red blood cells look like stacks of coins all stuck together. He explained my fingers were cold and showing signs of clubbing because the red blood cells were not getting through the capillaries in my fingers because they need to go through one at a time, a feat which was not possible due to my clumped blood cells. I also showed signs of MASSIVE candida overgrowth, we are talking a 12/10. It was really bad. He mentioned the candida was likely the cause of my crohns symptoms because the candida live in the intestine and drill holes into the walls of the intestine causing inflammation.

Ok new paragraph. This candida overgrowth was caused by me taking the Accutane. This is because the body immune function and friendly bacteria is reduced during the course of the drug. This allowed the candida to overgrow. Also my diet was horrible. I was eating junk, pure junk. I was eating bread, milk, cheese, refined sugar, table salt, all poison yet are considered to be a "normal diet" in the western world. This stuff is horrible for you. The candida thrive on sugar it had overgrown and had basically overtaken my entire body. The symptoms of candida overgrowth are numerous, the list is too long to mention here. Basically you feel like death, that is how I can explain it. So the alternative medicine doctor told me a full recovery was possible. All I needed to do was to change my diet. I drank lots of water and only water. I ate green vegetables and nuts. Basically everything that is allowed on the candida diet (google it). I also took a few supplements like acidophilus, white oak bark, slippery elm, dandylion seed, gluten defense, moducare, and aloe vera juice. Five months later and I am feeling fantastic. A full recovery. I am feeling better than I have ever felt, ever. It is so funny everytime we are out or at a party and I get offered a piece of cake, a donut or cookie or something, I turn it down like it is pure poison. Because to me it is, refined sugar is just horrible stuff. The thing is, you may be reading this and feeling a bit skeptical, but I am being dead serious, I am living proof. If your diet consists of any of those foods I mentioned above, try out the candida diet for AT LEAST 5 months and see how you feel. You may have never felt what I feel in your entire life. If you have any acne or just feel bad in general, it is imperative that you change your diet. Anybody that says diet does nothing for acne is just being plain ignorant. This included doctors too. They likely read it out of a textbook someplace but have never actually lived it or experienced it for themselves.

If I had been taking care of my body like I am now, I probably would have never even had to take Accutane. Because I would have been naturally free of acne. But what is done is done and hind sight is 20/20. I was terribly ignorant back then. I did no research, I trusted my hospital doctor without checking my references, I expected others to do things for me, I was irresponsible, I was eating garbage, I was confused, I was lazy, I was ungrateful, I took things for granted. The worst part is that I wasn't even aware that I was being ignorant. I have learned since then to be fully aware and conscious of the decisions that I make and I absolutely make sure to check my references. It has changed my entire life. In a way I am glad that I took that drug because it brought me to my knees. It brought me to my knees physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It makes me think of that saying that goes, "you really don't know what you have till it's gone". It is so true. Nowadays, I am so thankful and so grateful for everything that I have in my life. When you are grateful you are rich. I don't mean just thinking "yeah I guess I am grateful for what I have got", I mean thinking and feeling gratitude to the point where tears well up in your eyes. That kind of gratitude.  I live life with a new level of awareness. A whole new paradigm shift has taken place in my life. If you are still reading I want to leave you with a quote that has brought me to tears because I have lived it.

"Ignorance is not bliss, it's misery. It's poverty of the mind and spirit, and sooner or later of the bank account. Wisdom is weath of the heart, mind, and soul. And unlike money, once you have it, no one and nothing can ever take it away from you. Once you come to posess it, wisdom is yours forever. And even when you pass it on to others, your own store of it grows."
Avatar universal
Accutane is something i did not want to take. after years of suffering, i merely stopped drinking milk, soda and chips and tried this product called Tanda and it has worked for me. I also use apple cider vinegar  and a aspirin mask rigth before bed.

I am 33 male , pale with  oily skin. this regimen has worked for me after years of hiding and avoiding people.

if you cant stop drinking milk, buy either almond milk, coconut milk or rice milk. I personally drink almond milk because it tastes like milk.  this changed the way i look and do things and has done wonders for me.
Avatar universal
I have been on 6 courses (6 months twice and 5 moths the other 4 times) of accutane over a 10 year period. Before accutane i used to work out and be physically fit and would run like 5 miles a day and lift weights as well. I am 5"4 and I weighed 130 pounds. I now 1 years later have put on a lot of weight. Exercise is too painful. I had 3 MRI's done a week ago and I am waiting to see a specialist on the 5th of August. The nurse said I had moderate arthritis and degeneration! I am only 34. All the sudden for the second time i could not get out of bed for a week. This is the end of the second week. The first week started on the 16th of July. I was going to a chiropractor before thinking it would help me cause I had no idea what was wrong. It made things worse I believe. I could be wrong. But during that time I was on 8 vicodin a day and 4 muscle relaxers. So I didn't feel the real pain. I stopped using the drugs so I can get a grip and make sure I am not putting my body thru more pain and hurt. I am going to stop taking Accutane today after reading al this. I thought all my pain stemmed from another source but all this makes sense. My back pain is horrible. All my joints hurt even my wrists at times. Going up and down our stairs is torture! I can't stand for more than 10-15 minutes or lay down for 30 or more minutes without starting to cramping and pain! I wish one Dr. would have told me I would end up like this. I have missed 3 weeks of summer vacation with my son before he starts school. I can't get that back.
Avatar universal
I do have the same problem, I took accutane for a year 40mg/day and I started to have lower back pain. I workout almost everyday. At the end of my treatment I had real pain in my shoulders bones and muscles, last Month I went to physical therapy for the pain. My doctor took x-ray didn't find any problem with my shoulder but I get a poping sound in my Shoulder joint that's why I we t to physical therapy. I'm 23 yr old and pretty much healthy but after using accutane I feel my body is not strong as it was.
Avatar universal
So strange how the accutane takes a beating on our bodies. I have that same issue in my right arm as well. I found that odd. I have been doing acupuncture and it has helped with the muscle pain where it is very sore. Ice packs have helped as well. I have been doing physical therapy as well. Can i ask how come they had you on it for a year? They have like a 5 month and 6 month rule here.
Avatar universal
Weight lifting can put a lot of pressure on your joints. Make sure your doing it correctly. Also, if you are forced to stop don't feel like the end of the world. I might have to quite swimming because of breathing issues and other issues. I'm sure you still will be able to, just with caution.
Avatar universal
Hi Everyone, reading all these different experiences gets me really frightened and wondering if really it is worth it to take accutane.
I am a 28yr old lady and I have been on accutane for exactly 23 days and I have experienced servere backaches within the past week.
I spoke to my derma this morning asking if my backaches were related to the accutane and he adviced me to immediatley stop the drug. I must say I passed a sleepless night last night and if I have to go through that for beauty, well I honestly prefer to die of acne than of backache!
I have a colleague who used accutane a while ago and it worked perfectly for her. So I must say it really depends on ones body! The minute you feel something aint right, better stop it!
Thx :)
1489158 tn?1288224671
I am 14 years old, and have been taking accutane for approximatley a month and a half. Less then 40 pills, and I took 1 every SECOND day. I was the most flexible person, dance, gymnastics, soccer, I used to run, and was planning on trying out for rugby! Plans, down the rain. I have severe lower back pain, and can barley touch my knees. I have given everything up and am sitting on on my chair, in complete discomfort, dipressed, looking through every site for help. Its high school, I wanted to look flawless and beautiful, Im not self absorbed but I am sorta pretty. Down side ? I have the worst inflamitory acne. Derm says " itll be gone in 4 months 100% " .... I can't sleep at night. We are all beautiful, if we have acne so be it. Does your bestfriend hate you becouse you have ance, what about your family ? I think not. Id rather be myself, and live YEARS with acne then die a criple. I used to think accutane was a miracle pill, my respect for it just went to hell.
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